Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth
Box Office: $106.4 (Worldwide)*
A man is chosen by the creator to save the innocent creatures of the earth before he destroys the evil of the world with a massive flood.
This was a film that I expected would bring up a lot of controversy and it has. I figured it would challenge people's religious beliefs and in some ways it does. That being said, this is not a film that trashes religion by any stretch. Now before I get too deep into this review I want to state that I am not going to get into any theological discussions here. I am simply going to review it based on its merits as a film with only a few comments about its message. I do this because I do not pretend to have much knowledge of the historical context to the Noah story. I simply came into it wanting to hear a good story.
The film opens with an explanation as to how the world was created. It then goes to Noah (Russell Crowe) as a boy as he sees his father killed by Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone). Noah runs off into the wilderness and it jumps many years later and Noah is an adult with children and they are foraging for food. They see some men kill an animal and try to eat it but Noah stops them. He returns home to his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and tells her his fears that the men from the cities are getting closer and that they may need to leave. That night Noah has a vision that the creator is going to end the world. He realizes that he must try and find his Grandfather Methuselah to figure out what to do. So Noah and his family set out on a journey to find Methuselah. One thing that was apparent from the very beginning of the film was the excellent visual style that director Darren Aronofsky and Director of Photography Matthew Libatique have created. The film has a distinctly stunning look to it that had me hooked right away.
|That's a pretty looking sky|
Along the way to find Methuselah, Noah's family finds a little girl who has been hurt named Ila (Emma Watson) and they rescue her. After a long and dangerous journey they come to Methuselah's mountain and Noah and his oldest son Shem (Douglas Booth) go to meet him. He realizes that he must build an Ark to save the innocent of the world (the animals) from the coming flood. Methuselah gives Noah a seed from the garden of Eden and Noah plants it in the barren landscape near the mountain. The next day a large Forrest grows that will provide him with the wood he needs to build the ark and the fallen angels called the Watchers decide to help him build it.
|Pretty desolate landscapes|
The film then jumps ahead a number of years to when the Ark is nearing completion. Many of the animals are starting to arrive at the Ark and some people have noticed this. A large group of men comes to Noah to find out why all of the animals are coming there. These men are led by Tubal-cain, Noah is protected by the Watchers for now but Tubal-cain sets up camp nearby to prepare for an assault on the Ark. Noah and his family make the final preparations for the flood. This is when we also see some internal conflict within Noah's family as his youngest son Ham wants to have a girl like his brother, Ila does not believe she belongs with them because she is barren and Noah begins to believe that not even his family is meant to survive this apocalypse. Eventually the flood begins and Tubal-cain and his army assault the Ark. This is probably the part of the film that most people will take issue with. It essentially turns into a big fantasy film action sequence as the Watchers battle the men in order to protect the Ark. Noah also gets his hands dirty in killing some of these men as well. Eventually the water washes away all people and the Ark is propelled to the top. This was probably the most disturbing part of the film as you see and hear all of the people drowning and Noah refusing to save anyone.
|The Ark under construction|
The final act of the film involves Noah and his family living on the Ark for an extended period before the end of the flood and some internal conflicts that ensue. I will not go into too much detail here because I don't want to spoil everything in the film. All I will say is that the film does get pretty freaking (this is a movie about an apocalypse). As the credits rolled it took me quite a bit of time to fully process this film. It was not what I expected but I don't even truly know what I did expect. This is an epic and visually stunning film that separated from religion would be a pretty cool fantasy film. The main issue is that most audience members will not be able to do that.
Aronofsky has crafted a pretty solid biblical/fantasy epic. The film features a compelling story, solid acting and some great visuals that make this one of my favorite films of the year. I know that some people will immediately discount it because either they think it deviates too much from their perceptions of the biblical story or because they dislike anything religious. If you feel that way thats fine but you are missing out on a very enjoyable film simply because you can't get past your personal bias. Also there is one sequence in this that makes the entire film worth seeing. Watch out for the sequences when Noah tells his family the story of creation. It does a fantastic job of showing how the ideas of evolution and religion can coexist. I also encourage you to read the directors comments about the film as they are pretty interesting. If nothing else watch this movie in order to understand your issues with it. I think that if you give it a chance you will find something to enjoy from this film.
4 out of 5
-Chris "Da Franchize" Hart
*Information as of April 4th 2014