Thursday, 27 March 2014

Noah: Movie Review

Noah: Movie Review

Cast: Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Stone Transformer type creatures, a Lord of the Rings Treebeard style battle, a potential murder of babies and a flood of Biblical proportions.

It can only be director Darren Aronofsky's take on Noah.

Yep, water surprise.

You read that right - it's the old Bible story but through the old Aronofsky skew of perception, where the lead actor may - or may not - be facing the onslaught of madness. (Think Black Swan's psychological machinations).

Russell Crowe is Noah, who one day experiences a vision that the world is about to be flooded in watery destruction (the first of Aronofsky's brilliantly visual interpretations) and decides to build an ark to save the creatures so that the Creator (never God in this film) can start again. But his plan to help them avoid the initial floods (though, he intones, he and his family must be judged too) causes conflict within his family and also with tubel-Cain (Ray Winstone, looking drowned and like he failed a Game Of Thrones audition) who amasses an army to seize the ark and ensure their survival.

Epic in scale, it's easy to see why Noah may offend some - particularly with the introduction of the Watchers, a set of Stone Transformers type six armed creatures which are fallen angels, grounded by the Creator to keep an eye on Earth and Man.

While I distinctly don't remember these from earlier studies - or the magical and mythical - (which would have no doubt piqued my interest), they exist simply to perhaps engage the younger end of the audience and also to provide an epic LOTR style fight as they defend the ark from Tubel-Cain's masses, before exploding into Rapturous light and heading skyward-bound in a redemptive arc deemed necessary by Hollywood.

Of the acting, Crowe is difficult to read to start off with as Noah, the man whose visions cause so much conflict; initially, he's a father and a forager for his kith and kin, but as the quest takes his toll, we see one of Aronofsky's key motifs come into play - a man on the descent of unswerving belief and searching for something else, self-destructive or otherwise. It's here Crowe gets his acting chops on (even if the dialogue does fail him) and manages to provide some more depth to the wronged scavenger - even if you're never quite clear on whether his interpretation of events is right or not. That said, you can't fault Crowe's commitment to the cause.

Elsewhere, Jennifer Connelly is largely wasted as Naameh, his wife; Emma Watson looks Harry Potter-esque as Ila, Ray Winstone is half-eyed and slurring as Tubel-Cain and Welsh tongued Anthony Hopkins veers between venerable and OTT as the hermit Methuselah, who appears obsessed with gathering berries rather than playing grandfather.

Yet, it's Aronofsky who's the real star (and ironically, divisive presence) of this apocalyptically epic piece - his trippy execution of Noah's initial vision (all watery and floating bodies) is evocative and disturbing, suggesting a mania in his lead that's fearful and lost; equally, his peppering of the film with images of the snake, the apple and Man's destruction verges on the hallucinogenic in places; but his bravura time-lapse sequence showing the birth of creation and the Let there be light speech demonstrates a bravura flair that's only dragged down by the other flawed elements of the piece, which draws to a hysteria as the end comes and Noah threatens to teeter over into the unthinkable. At times, the bombastic score could do with being eased off as it blasts all and sundry with ominous tones that are unnecessary.

While it's clear that Noah was a passion project for director Aronofsky, I can't help but have a nagging feeling that this somewhat bloated telling of a Biblical style film for a modern day audience which veers from its subject material in some ways is likely to rankle; it appears to be a flight of schizophrenia for its director in places thanks to flawed ideas and execution, but in other moments, its visual execution and evocative displays of originality lead to plenty of impressively creative touches.


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