Stephen A Russell says:
Noah is a project Darren Aronofsky has been trying to bring to the screen for over a decade and thanks to the commercial success of Black Swan he’s realised the dream. This is one big budget epic coming in at a reported $125m to produce, the largest Aronofsky’s ever worked with and it certainly would’ve come with a lot of handholding from Paramount Pictures, who’ve positioned it as an early Easter blockbuster. For Aronofsky, this is his first out and out mainstream blockbuster attempt so there’s a lot of if’s and risks attached to such a bold project.
I don’t think I need to run over the plot of the movie as I’m sure a fair wedge of you already know the story of Noah’s Ark. What Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel have done is fashioned it into a whole bundle of ideas tacked together with some pretty stunning action sequences. Its musings on existentialism, our role on the earth, cause and effect (Noah’s strongest elements for my money) run it closest to 2006′s The Fountain and Noah certainly does ask you to question and explore these ideas. But as we course the trajectory of ideological notions we’re constantly interjected with big, broad cinema appeal sequences.
The birth of our planet, Methusela’s forest, the coming of the animals, the Watchers, the flood itself, the Lord Of The Ring-Lite fight sequences, the evolution of life amongst others all showcase an eye popping flair for visuals and cinematography. There’s really some splendid visual artistry at work here both in the digital animation and the in-camera shots themselves. Aronosfky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique shoot with multiple formats and styles, constantly cramming all sorts of imagery at you to dizzying effect.
It’s like watching a kid trying to show you his entire toy collection in 5 minutes. I wanna show you this, I wanna talk about this, I wanna jump over to here – the film is constantly on the go even when it’s in its more sombre moments. And when it’s jumping from big to small, brazen to intimate you feel the shambolic nature of the film. It’s not a bad thing as there wasn’t a moment in the film where I was bored or looking at my watch.
Performances are a mixed bag but Russell Crowe’s robust embodiment of Noah anchors the film – he is, and always will be, a mighty screen presence. Ray Winstone also commands the screen as his nemesis with a fairly generic role as the King of Men Tubal Cain, Jennifer Connelly does Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson turns in an empassioned take, Douglas Booth is too pretty to take seriously and Logan Lerman is solid as Ham, which brings me to phone-it-in Hopkins who looks like he just crossed sound stages from Thor and doesn’t really do anything discernibly different than anything else he’s done since Silence Of The Lambs.
You cannot deny that Noah is full of ideas and set pieces. The boldness of the undertaking is worth the admission alone and whilst it’s not the most disciplined blockbuster you’ll ever see it certainly is entertaining and will spark debate over the water cooler. The great thing that Noah does, that is great to see in these tentpoles, is that it’s willing to take risks – big ones – and for that it gets a big ol’ tick from me.
Review courtesy of The Lowdownunder
Rotten Tomatoes says: 76% – “With sweeping visuals grounded by strong performances in service of a timeless tale told on a human scale, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah brings the Bible epic into the 21st century.”
The Hollywood Reporter says: “Darren Aronofsky wrestles one of scripture’s most primal stories to the ground and extracts something vital and audacious, while also pushing some aggressive environmentalism.”
Time Magazine says: “Rarely has a film that flirts this solemnly with ambition bending toward madness been so masterly in carrying its spectators to its heights and through its depths. On both levels, Noah is a water thrill ride worth taking.”
Rolling Stone says: “Miraculously, Aronofsky has spent $130 million of Hollywood money on a visionary art film that asks us to examine what we believe. In this flawed, fiercely relevant film, wonders never cease.”