Noah (2014) – Review

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone


That was really bugging me. I was trying to think about another movie that featured daft rock monsters. Then after scratching my head for about five minutes and getting blank looks from at least one of my children, it hit me. Aronofsky must have been a Galaxy Quest fan.

Let me just say that I’m not a big devotee of the bible. I don’t really have too much to say on the subject as I am firmly in the camp of ‘if you know nothing, you’re better off keeping your trap shut’. This avoids the possibility of making yourself look like a proper charlie and what’s more, you just might learn something, even if it is just how deluded some people can really be. Regardless of this philosophy however, I don’t remember anything about rock monsters in the small amount of Genesis that I have actually taken the trouble to read at any stage. Or corrugated metal sheeting, or flare guns, come to that. We should probably just overlook it, I mean, it’s God after all, he can do what he likes.
Darren Aronofsky’s grand biblical epic was probably supposed to come across with a good deal more gravitas. I mean, it’s all armageddon, death, flooding, death and more death as him upstairs apparently has a right hissy fit and throws all of his toys along with his dummy out of his pram. And why exactly? Well, man is not deserving of the earthly delights that he has provided so, in retrospect and with the benefit of hindsight (would God actually need hindsight?) he decides to do away with the pesky human race, wipe the slate clean and then start again, by flooding the globe and killing off everyone with the exception of Noah, his wife and kids, plus some saucy minx in the form of Emma Watson, only added to ensure the continuation of the human race without it getting all mucky and sordid and making Jennfier Connelly have sex with Logan Lerman, who plays their son, Ham. Yes. Ham. Why didn’t they name one of the other kids Pork?

Anyway, I digress. Aronofsky is not the slightest bit overawed by the subject matter and before you know it, you are balls-deep into it. After a questionable title sequence that will make you think (if you’re like me, at least) that maybe you’re actually watching the wrong version of Noah, we meet the chap himself, in small boy form, as his Dad gets a club through his skull, delivered by a very annoyed Ray Winstone, who will pop up again later. Noah hightails it, obviously, and the next thing you know, Russell Crowe has arrived, all beard and sandals, looking for berries on the hillside, now with kids of his own. He’s a doting father, a caring husband and descends from the wrong line of Adam. Hence this scrubbing about in the mossy undergrowth, looking for their next meal.

A couple of mysterious pauses as Noah gazes skyward and the odd dream sequence apparently has this man connected via bluetooth or some other equally bewildering fashion to the lord god almighty and he discerns from what appears to be seemingly abstract visions that the world will end and a mighty flood will engulf the earth, wiping out the main reason for gods wrath; man. As if needing a second opinion, he realises he will have to up sticks, family, chattels and all, and go and see his grandad, Anthony Hopkins, who if we’re honest, is a bit of wily old wizard with some bitchin’ powers of his own that are not be sniffed at. So begins their exodus (sorry) up a ruddy big hill, the foot of which seemingly makes a lovely spot for a bit of construction.You really can’t argue with the epic nature of the film, and if you’re prepared to swallow the rock monsters and flare guns, then you’ll probably be wailing in supplication by events portrayed on screen anyway. If that’s the case, then this is definitely for you and you will have a blast. The rest of us more agnostically inclined will have a bit of a tougher time with the ‘inspired by true events’ theme, but if you set aside your incredulity, you will find this at least as satisfying as any other fairy tale with an abundance of green screen tomfoolery.

The performances are, as you would expect, excellent. As a Noah biopic, it is a little difficult to say whether Crowe’s acting is up to scratch or not as having only the Bible to go on. Whether this means his portrayal of the nicest man on earth turning into a potential axe-weiling baby killer is authentic or not is up for debate, but nonetheless, you do get the feeling that he could do it, which comes from a very rounded showing from Maximus. Connelly and Watson are both excellent in their supporting roles and everyone gets the opportunity at one point or another to display a veritable smorgasborg of thespian range.

In all, it truly is a rip-roaring epic that asks its audience to maybe set aside their own beliefs for a couple of hours in order for Aronofsky to be allowed to give his opinion on the subject. Awash (sorry) with visual glory and adept acting, the script is a bit cheesy and predictable, but our cast is more than able to rise above it. Glorious nonsense, but still glorious to watch. You certainly will not be bored for too long or too often.

 

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