In this reimagining of the classic bible tale, Noah (Russell Crowe) receives a sign from the creator that floods are about to engulf the world, and sets out to build an ark to save humanity – and animal kind – from the waters.
In taking on a bible tale, director Darren Aronofsky immediately made himself the focus of religious ire, but Noah is less a religious tale and more an environmental one.
Russell Crowe gives a solid but ultimately uninspiring performance as the title character, although the character is revealed to be less blithe than we once thought. Jennifer Connelly does not have a lot to do as Noah’s wife Naameh, Emma Watson, as Ila, swings from solid to shaky performance, often within the same sentence, Douglas Booth brings the hotness as Noah’s son Shem and Logan Lerman ramps up the sulky brat as Ham. Ray Winstone plays Tubal-cain, a descendant of the people who have destroyed the earth – hence the flood – and chews his way through most of the scenery in the film. Scenery chewing props also have to go to Anthony Hopkins as Methusalah, who seems a little bored by the role, but still manages to camp it up.
The story gives great focus to the mythical Watchers; fallen angels who wanted to help humanity and were punished by God – or ‘The Creator’ – for their transgressions. Realised through CGI as hulking stone creatures, The Watchers add an air of magic to the film, without ever being overly religious. In fact, the theory that The Watchers were in fact aliens who pushed humanity forward entirely fits in with the film, although this may not have been what Aronofsky was going for.
The rest of the story is one of jealousy and battle; Noah comes off as a man obsessed with fulfilling The Creator’s wishes, even at the expense of his family, and humanity. Aronofsky and Ari Handel’s script also brings in notions of vegetarianism and environmentalism, meaning that the film thankfully steers clear of fundamentalism and preaching.
Aronofsky, as director, tries to push the film into the realm of melodrama that we saw in Black Swan, but misses the mark, making Noah feel hammy and overdone, without ever being truly engaging. The running time also goes against the story, leaving the pacing muddled and drawn out.
The CGI in the film swings between the sublime and the ridiculous; The Watchers are brilliantly realised, but it is all to obvious that no real animals were used in the making of the film since the creatures we see look incredibly flat and unreal.
In all, without The Watchers, Noah would be a complete wash out, as it stands, the film is an uninspired and uninspiring retelling of a familiar tale. Bible fans may balk at the changes in the story – even though it is clear that these were made for the sake of dramatisation – and the curious may themselves confused, not converted. Noah could have sailed magnificently and shown us a new side of a familiar tale, but in the end, it feels rather like a damp squib.