Review - Noah

Noah (2014), PG-13, 138 minutes - Please allow me to begin by making what may be an obvious statement: this is a review for Noah, Darren Aronofsky's latest film.   The film is an interpretation and adaptation, and as such, inevitably differs from the source material.  I am commenting on the film itself and am not looking to get into a religious debate. So, with that being said...

Noah (Russell Crowe) is the descendant of Seth (brother of Cain and Abel).  While Cain was covetous, killing Abel and leading man on a path of dominion over the world, Seth went an opposite direction, accepting his place in the natural order of things and only killing and using what was necessary for survival.  This way of life was handed down through the generations to Noah, who has been tasked by The Creator to construct an ark to provide a safe haven for one pair of every living thing (one male, one female) when a devastating flood is sent to eradicate the wickedness of man and give the world a fresh start.  That probably doesn't sound all that different from the Biblical story we've all heard at one time or another, but in this version there's a bit more to it than that.  While Noah demonstrates his faith in The Creator, he also has to deal with questions from his sons Sham (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson), and his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), who all have differing interpretations of the events they find themselves in.  Oh yeah, he also has to fight off the barbarian-ish horde led by Cain's descendant Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone).  Tubal-Cain is hell bent on securing the ark to be used by his people for survival instead of Earth's creatures.  Noah doesn't do all of this himself though.  He gets advice from his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and help building/protecting the ark from golem-esque Watchers (fallen angels who where made one with the Earth by The Creator when they fell).  Noah's trials also don't end with the successful completion of the ark, he continues a not-so-internal battle with himself between how he truly feels about his family and what he feels The Creator means for him to do to give the world its fresh start.  It's at this point that the film takes a pretty dark turn.

I've long been a fan of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and the films of Darren Aronofsky.  Crowe puts forth a strong performance, especially when Noah's actions leave him in a hard spot.  Does he do what he feels in right in his heart, or does he do whatever is necessary to carry out The Creator's will, which may cause him to be no different than Tubal-Cain?  This is also the time when Connelly's performance shines most brightly as a voice of reason.  Above and beyond all though, in my opinion was Emma Watson's turn as Ila.  From being thankful for being rescued and taken in as part of the family to questioning her place on an ark that was clearly meant for pairs to repopulate the world (her childhood injury left her barren) to her emotional face off with Noah, Watson was wonderful.

Noah had a bit more of a sci-fi/fantasy feel to it than I expected.  Mostly due to the way The Watchers were portrayed, but I enjoyed it.  It may not be the way many religious groups would have preferred the story to have been told, but it is an adaptation that covers a great number of morals and quite a bit of emotional ground.  Darren Aronofsky has said that he's wanted to tell the story of Noah for some time now, and the cut that made it to theaters may or may not be the cut that he would have wanted us to see (there's been some debate in recent weeks that the studio made some changes to be more acceptable to religious groups), but it is easily his most epic film to date and one worth seeing at that.












*****SPOILERS*****

These are more factoids than spoilers, but they weren't really necessary to cram into the review:

- Aronofsky and Connelly have worked together before on 2000's Requiem for a Dream.  Connelly's Naameh has a decidedly better outcome in Noah than her character did in Requiem.

- This is the second time that Crowe and Connelly have portrayed husband and wife (previous in 2001's A Beautiful Mind as John and Alicia Nash).

- Emma Watson and Logan Lerman were both in 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

- Crowe and Lerman have worked together previously as well (2007's 3:10 to Yuma).  There may be other connections between actors/actresses in Noah as well, but these were the handful that I recognized right off the bat.

- This isn't really a spoiler, but personally I liked the way Aronofsky chose to portray The Watchers.


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