Movie Review: Noah

From the director of the acclaimed Black Swan, comes a new take on a classic story of the Bible, spinning a full-throttle tale of creation, courage, and the disastrous sins of humankind. Noah tells the story of one man's difficult choices he must overcome when he is chosen by God to commit a fatal and life-changing act.

Around the time when man was first created, when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, and their offspring became the beginning of humankind, generations and generations eventually led to the birth of Noah (Russell Crowe), a man unwillingly destined to bring upon the ultimate end of cruel mankind and the beginning of a new world. After he is chosen by the Creator to build a massive ark to save the Earth's population of animals and the innocent among the humans, he must soon challenge his beliefs and his fears in order to bring peace to the Creator, and save his family from the cruel and unjust world that mankind has created on Earth. Showcasing a tale of violence and redemption, full of rock creatures and massive floods, Noah brings gloomy, tragic, and daring life to a classic tale of the Bible.


Going into this film I expected it to be a decent origin story of creation and a visually stunning piece of work. While it was visually pleasing for the most part, the story lacked in suspense and overall character development. The film begins by first introducing the main character, Noah, and his peaceful family of a wife (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons. After Noah is suddenly struck with haunting visions of destruction and death by water, he willingly embarks on a quest for guidance. While the tale may be classic and defining, it remains rather barren of any real suspense, and also utilizes massive time-lapses to fast-forward through the character's lives. As the story quickly moves along, lapsing many years later with Noah having the Ark nearly complete, and the end of days vastly approaching, the plot doesn't really go that far in order to amaze the audience. The character development, being rather rushed as it seems, didn't offer much to the plot of the film. While there may have been a few twists involving one son, Ham (Logan Lerman), and a defining miracle near the end for Emma Watson's character, the characters basically stayed the same for the majority of the film. As for the suspense of the film, it really didn't pick up until after Noah and his company were on the vessel towards new life, the occupants quickly going against each other for a number of reasons.

Visually, the film was stunning, but to a small degree. First implementing visual elements from a slithering serpent of Eden to a broadened barren landscape of Earth, I saw promise in the film's outlook. But then, the film's minor flaws began to show when walking, talking spider-like rock creatures appeared. The Watchers, as they are called, are punished angels trapped on Earth by the Creator, and must suffer in their rocky form. These odd creatures, as visually cool as they are, really weren't needed for the plot, other than to fight off angry humans and aid Noah in the building of the Ark. Other than that, these misplaced beings, which obviously don't appear in the Bible, offer nothing but a decent visual for the audience to gawk at. Continuing through the film, the other visual effects basically include massive rain and the Ark floating towards a new world. While it may not be that plentiful, the visuals in the film do offer some positives in the film, making it a decent contender in visual masterpieces of this year so far.

The cast of the film was another positive in the film's overall outlook, giving us masterful performances by Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Ray Winstone. Crowe, playing the biblical prophet destined to save mankind, delivers adequately as a stern, cold father-figure to his sons and Emma Watson's Ila. Crowe, being a masterful actor of serious and devoted roles, once again played a powerful leader who must make life-changing decisions that alter his beliefs and actions. Crowe made a perfect Noah, with his knowledgeable insights and stern leadership. Near the end of the film, Crowe must make a defining choice that will ultimately challenge his sanity and his faith in the Creator. Another powerful character in the film was Noah's wife, played by the talented Jennifer Connelly. As Noah struggles to maintain his beliefs and protect his family, Connelly offers insightful wisdom, and fearful pleads at times, to influence Noah to make the right decisions. In one scene, after Noah begins to slip from his true beliefs in family and protection, Connelly offers a powerful speech about what is truly just in a world of chaos and corruption. The antagonist of the film, played by Ray Winstone, was an interesting character, bringing a menacing, ruthless nature to this apocalyptic tale. Winstone, playing a ruthless king out for blood and also a free ride on the Ark, leads a group of corrupt men to take the Ark and kill Noah, concluding to an all-out war to survive the flood. The other cast members, including Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Douglas Booth, and Anthony Hopkins, all played decent roles in the film and were cast pretty well, especially Hopkins as Noah's grandfather who offers insight and also mystical blessings.

Overall, the film was a decent biblical tale of the 21st century, offering good special effects and an amazing cast. The story, however, didn't really deliver as much as I had hoped it would. But with a tale as straight-forward as this, I'll give credit to director Darren Aronofsky for using his imagination and visual taste to add some flare to this dry tale, even with its already apparent aspects of courage and sacrifice. Even though it has some rather "unrealistic" aspects, like instant plant growth and water spewing out of the ground like a broken fire hydrant, Noah successfully delivers a visual tale of one man's courage, his powerful struggle toward survival, and his destined quest to repopulate humanity in his image.

I gave Noah a 7 out of 10, because of an amazing cast of gloomy-dressed actors, a visually-stunning final product, but not a strong-enough plot to keep the audience believing everything they're seeing (especially those rock creatures...although one was voiced by Nick Nolte...oh, nevermind). 

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