Religious films are all the craze in 2014 and you bet your sweet ass that big budget Hollywood isn’t going to miss out on Sunday church groups flocking to theaters. Granted Hollywood and Darren Aronofsky have been crafting how to translate the biblical tale of Noah and his ark to the big screen, for quite some time. However, leading up to Noah’s release critics were skeptic about how Aronofsky’s talented vision would transition from modest-cost Oscar nominated films to his first truly big budget film. All of Aronosky’s previous films’ budgets don’t add up to Noah’s $125M. Those critics probably feel pretty stupid right about now.
The story is pretty straight forward; a descendant (Noah) of Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, is told by The Creator (God) that mankind is going to be destroyed due to their sin; Noah is tasked with ferrying the innocent (animals) into the new world while all mankind is doomed by a worldwide flood. Of course, because it is a big budget-big production company backed film, there is some fluff and the religious fanatic will leave the theater in disgust. But hey, screw you guys, it’ works!
Sometimes, when you’re tasked with telling a story that’s been told millions of times before you have to change some things in order for your vision to shine through. It’s Aronofsky’s vision that is the big winner in Noah. In order for Aronofsky to get his vision through to the audience we’re told that before the first end times, Adam and Eve gave birth to two sons – Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel because he’s jealous of Abel. Cain then flees his parents and goes off to start the mankind’s first Industrial Age (fluff tale #1). Cain is helped by some Angels who chose to fall out of the good graces of God because they were sad that mankind was cast out of the Garden of Eden (fluff tale #2). Oh did I mention that these Angels were turned to stone and live as rock creatures on Earth? These “Fallen Angels” help mankind sully themselves in to the sinners they were when The Creator chose to wipe the Earth clean. Mankind then turns on these “Fallen Angels” nearly killing all of them until Noah’s grandfather Methuselah saves them. These “untold” events help Aronofsky accomplish his vision of Noah building a Titanic-sized boat by himself.
Noah has it’s battle scenes – it’s a “epic” tale afterall – but it’s the film’s villain that really separates this tale from being another bust. I’m not talking about Ray Winstone as Tubal Cain, I’m talking about the transformation Russell Crowe takes the character of Noah through. Afterall, the film is titled after our hero so it’s only natural that Aronofsky would toy with Noah being the anti-hero. The film comes down to choices; does Noah jeopardize The Creator’s plan by making sacrifices for his family? It’s an interesting dilemma that is gripping to watch unfold.
Russell Crowe is spot on as Noah it’s Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly who often end up stealing scenes. Watson shows she is quickly moving past her 10 year stint in the Harry Potter franchise. She is Il-la, adopted daughter of Noah, and romantically involved with Noah’s eldest son, Shem. Watson’s raw emotion in a majority of her scenes is why Noah succeeds. Between Crowe, Connelly, Watson and Anthony Hopkins – Noah thrives despite it’s false premise.
Is Noah the perfect biblical film? Of course not. Will staunch religious cohorts love it? Nope. Is it a fantastic film? You betcha!