“Noah” commanded by the creator himself to build a giant Ark, housing two of every animal species to enable the world to survive a giant flood. A deliberate catastrophe sent to cleanse the world of all the wickedness wrought by mankind.
Many of a Christian background will know the story and director Darren Aronofsky, noted for his daring approach to storytelling, has taken this basic framework and added big budget effects and additional background to the story.
After a brief recap of how the world was created from “Genesis”, we meet a young “Noah” and witness his early years with his father.
Fast forward and we meet Rusell Crowe as “Noah” as he looks after his three sons “Ham” (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth), Japheth and his beloved wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly). Times are hard but the family survive by living a life closely connected to the earth and what it can provide.
The world is also populated by “Watchers” or “Fallen Angels”, large creatures made of boulders and rocks. Unfortunately appearing remarkably like the boulder monster in “Galaxy Quest”.
Much of mankind has followed Cain and his descendants, building a civilisation that is known mainly for it’s wickedness and desecration of the earth, necessary to feed the insatiable desires of man. Any similarities to the present day, are entirely intentional.
After receiving a message that he alone has been chosen to perform this act of faith, Noah seeks guidance from his grandfather “Methulsla” (Anthony Hopkins), a friend of the “Watchers”. Following a miracle, it is clear his path has been chosen and the “Watchers” agree to help.
On their journey, the family find an injured young woman “Skylar Burke” (Emma Watson), she joins the family, providing possible handy gene pool diversification and subsequent moral dilemmas. The group commence building the Ark as they proceed to fulfil their destiny, to save all that is pure and leave the rest for judgement.
Leaving aside any religious connotations, the film is hard going for the first 30/40 minutes, in many ways resembling a school play with bizarre characters, motivations and themes.
If the audience manages to get past the opening sequences a moderately better film does emerge, although the story remains on shaky ground, until the water arrives. Acting wise, there is a fine effort from all the lead players, including a full on biblical Ray Winstone, complete with London accent acting as nemesis to “Noah”. However the story makes creating motivations and believability hard work, however well intentioned the cast.
Aronofsky has almost bitten off more more than he can realistically chew in one movie. Shoehorning in an ecological message, religious symbolism and a blockbuster corwd pleasing film all in one. Whilst James Cameron arguably achieved this with “Avatar”, here the director is limited within the constraints of a story that has been written, believed or at least cherished by many.
The effects are not state of the art, on occasion looking decidedly sub-standard, although the flood sequence is notable. The story neatly dances around how all competing animals would not eat each other, some handy incense type substance placing them into suspended animation.
Of course no-one can do “ancient” better than Crowe, he is arguably the only actor that stands any chance of pulling off such roles without appearing comical, he does well here but even he struggles to keep his head literally and figuratively above water.
It is noteworthy to enjoy the “post apocalyptic chic” towards the end of the film, even when the world is no longer and you are the only people left, there is no need to let standards drop.
It is difficult to see the target audience, with believers decrying any variation from sacred text, certainly there were no boulder monsters mentioned at the Sunday school I attended. Those without such beliefs, will wonder how such a fantastical story ever made it to the big screen.
A strange film that some may dislike with a passion, for a variety of reasons. Box office suggests that an audience was found, although mainstream acceptance remained out of reach.
Not recommended unless the story line holds interest for whatever reason, although not quite the disaster (no pun intended) the first 40 minutes might suggest, what remains may not “float the boat” for the average film lover.