It was hard to avoid hearing about Darren Aronofsky’s epic based on the biblical story of Noah and the Ark, aptly titled “Noah.” The film has been shrouded in controversy ever since the film was announced, due to tension between Aronofsky and Paramount studios over the final cut of the film and allegations from the Christian community that the film was attempting to give a “Hollywood take” of a biblical story.
Despite the controversy, the film has proved itself to be Aronofsky at his absolute best. Between the strong sweeping visuals and thought-provoking structure, the director has created one of the most impressive biblical epics to ever hit the silver screen.
Where many other films at this scale fail, “Noah” succeeds. The film stays with you after you leave the theater, not because of the visuals or the loud noises, but because of the questions it raises. It riles up the pain that someone feels when being called to do the right thing, although it may be difficult to stomach.
Aronofsky has taken a story with gaps in its telling and stretched it into an epic, while also fitting into a drama on the human scale. Some of that is thanks to the phenomenal cast headed by Russell Crowe as Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife Naameh, who are reunited after staring together in “A Beautiful Mind.” Both do such magnificent and heartbreaking work here.
Credit must also be given to Emma Watson, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins, who all turn in great performances — particularly Watson and Lerman who prove again that they are growing into two fine actors.
However, a film that is this ambitious and so tediously conceived always comes with its flaws.
Despite the gorgeous direction and effects, there is the consistent big-budget film problem of weak dialogue. There aren’t any eye-rolling lines, but it is purely functional opposed to something profound.
There is also the issue of some unnecessary action sequences that were worrisome to many before the film’s release. There is one scene early in the film where Noah fights and kills a group of men who killed an animal. He uses this to explain justice to his son. However, the extended action scene was extraneous for the purpose of the incident.
Then there were the small issues, like when the family used incense to put the animals to sleep, including an elephant, but weren’t affected by the incense themselves.
Past that, Aronofsky was able to fit in the overarching religious themes of sin and forgiveness, but also left room for lessons that could be taken from the non-religious. The entire arc of the film has to do with doing what is right, despite it hurting those you love and your own morality. This film makes you think and reevaluate what it means to be human, and that in the end in all bad, there is good.
The director does this all with gorgeous visuals and magnificent cinematography. Between that and the smart editing, the film is an achievement for filmmaking.
“Noah” is nowhere near a perfect film, but for an experimental filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky, it rarely is. He has done the seemingly impossible by creating a biblical film that will satisfy the believers and those looking for a great night at the movies. Aronosfky did what he does best in telling a story that works as both an epic and a character study. Although it may hurt, this film will make you think and that is the absolute best we can hope for from this age of film.