Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, etc.
When I first heard that director Darren Aronofsky was creating a film on the biblical story of Noah, I was a little surprised. The trailers for Noah made it out to be a sort of apocalypse-themed, action flick, and, considering Aronofsky’s past works consist mainly of perturbing psychological thrillers (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), this seemed very out of place. Nonetheless, I went in to Noah hoping to be blown away and be able to dismiss all of the controversy surrounding it in light of its actual quality as a film. However, the best word i can use to describe the film, as a whole, is ‘meh.’
Where Noah shines most, easily, is its visuals. The effects and cinematography implemented are both quite impressive, namely Noah’s distubing visions and dreams of the brooding end of days, the desolate landscapes, and the flood sequence itself. These lose some meaning however, thanks to a hulkingly bizarre edition of creatures known as “The Watchers,” fallen angels who take the form of giant rock monsters that attempt to redeem themselves for their past discretions by helping Noah build the ark. Seemingly a blockbuster trope, the creatures bog down some of the credibility, and add a layer of cheese to an otherwise quite serious narrative.
Crowe himself does a pretty fine job, displaying very well the part of a disturbed, tormented, and hurt man who merely wants to do as his creator tells him for the betterment of creation, even if it means condemning millions to die. The rest of the cast sits comfortable at average thanks to a rather bumpy script that is, at times, eye-rollingly over dramatic, and a lack of really solid character development that makes the majority come off as very bland. The action set pieces, mainly involving the film’s primary antagonist Tubal-cain (Winstone) and his band of sinners who attempt to take the ark for themselves, are quite brutal. There’s a hefty amount of violence in the film that serves to darken the atmosphere even further (which it does), but I couldn’t help but think as I was watching them that it felt like just any other blockbuster and, despite the fact that they often look very pretty, are unspectacular.
As a whole, this is still very much an Aronofsky film. The psychological themes he explores with Noah’s character, namely his very human nature of devotion and faith, as well as the often incredibly unsettling yet always pretty visual effects and filmwork are all solid, but are dragged down by the alien sense of blockbuster cliche I couldn’t shake off by the time the movie was over. If you’re still looking for a film with brooding subject matter and weight, but without the “summer blockbuster” vibe, go watch Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream instead.