Noah is one of those conflicting movies, where there is lots of greatness counter-balanced with some questionable decisions. This story of the biblical flood was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, whose expertise certainly makes this an interesting epic. Yet at the end, while there is greatness in it, I cannot hail it as great.
This film’s biggest strength is in the setting. I believe that one of the biggest feats a film can pull off is to give a very strong sense of time and place and provide a unique tone and atmosphere. Aronofsky and crew succeed at doing that here. We are given s vision of the earth during the very, very early stages of human existence. The world seems empty, it seems primitive, and it seems very different than what we’ve seen before. Just looks at the wonderful costumes as an example; they truly look to be from that time.
The acting here is also top notch. Russell Crowe portrays a Noah who is incredibly driven to do God’s will but also shows the emotional toll it takes on him. Jennifer Connelly also feels very natural yet also very from the time period as his wife. Emma Thompson was also very strong, and I never once thought of her as Hermione through the whole picture. The boys who played the sons were good as well.
One thing I also liked about Noah was how visually convincing it was. In particular, I really liked the animals. I loved that they made the decision to have versions of the animals from thousands of years ago (I’m pretty sure I saw a giant sloth in there) However, I have to confess I was overly disappointed with how little they were actually seen. Yes I know that this is a human drama first and foremost, but the animals maybe have a minute of screen time altogether, and we are never given any room to really take in the visual feast we are teased with.
Another weakness in the story is the character of the King played by Ray Winstone. Lets just say that he seems to be used only to add further complications leading to the climax, but it really feels unnecessary overall and somewhat cliched.
But what stands out the most is Aronofsky’s decision to turn Noah from a biblical epic into a full out fantasy tale. Now I understand that there are a lot of fantastical elements in many bible stories, especially Noah, but some of the decisions here feel very much outside of that realm. Some examples here are the rock ents (called Watchers) and the magic fire gold.
Now, some of the fantasy elements seem to work and feel like they come from biblical sources, such as the forest sprouting from a single seed, Methusalah’s wall of fire, etc. But others feel like they come from Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. It sort of feels like those of us of the Christian faith are being mocked. I know some people will appreciate that mocking, I do not. Some pay not see it as mocking at all, and that’s fine, they will probably like the movie more than I. But I just couldn’t shake that feeling I suppose.
This is a movie of wide opinion sweeps for me. There are some very strong merits to this movie. I really thought that they did an excellent job of capturing this unique time and place, and this carried me through much of the movie and always made it at least interesting. The goals of the film in terms of faith are questionable, but this is of course a very personal matter which likely wont reflect your opinion at all and will be seen differently by almost everyone. But regardless, it could have used more animals.