Review: Noah / Cert: 12A / Director: Darren Aronofsky / Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel / Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte, Frank Langella / Release Date: April 7th
Maths, drugs, wrestling, ballet, a millennium of love and death and now a biblical tale: Darren Aronofsky picks a wide variety of subjects for his films, but one thing always present is a breakdown of the human psyche. So,a man chosen by God (or rather, 'The Creator' - to the annoyance of many Christians) to build a giant ark to save creation should fit right in.
In an ambiguous time period, Noah (Crowe), his wife Naameh (Connelly) and their sons are living in isolation. Mankind is corrupt and sinful and led by the ruthless King Tubal-Cain (Winstone), who murdered Noah's father. Noah starts to witness miracles and visions that prompt him to take his family to visit his grandfather Methuselah (Hopkins), a wise old man who also provides some comic relief. On the way they adopt an orphaned, barren girl called Ila (Watson) who they raise as their own. Shortly afterwards they're also chased by Tubal-Cain's men, who retreat when they enter the land of The Watchers (Nolte and Langella amongst others), fallen angels turned into monstrous rock-like creatures (think The NeverEnding Story).
With the help of Methuselah and The Watchers, Noah starts to build the ark. So far no one's seemed against it, and the years pass. His children grow up in the best tree house ever and Ila and one of Noah's sons, Shem (Booth) become an item, keeping it in the family. The animals arrive and a 'how will they?' question is answered straight away. Inevitably the flood and Tubal-Cain and his cannibalistic men arrive, and you suddenly have a hell on Earth that Bosch would be proud of.
This is the best part of the movie – when it is filled with action and lives up to its ambition after much slow burning. But this is an Aronofsky film and it's not just about a man and his ark. Noah's sons need wives, especially second eldest Ham (Lerman) who's feeling a bit lonely. Here enter the subplots that keep the film going, for a bit too long unfortunately. How can the sons have wives if there are no good people left? Doesn't the Creator (and therefore Noah) want mankind to die? And what if Ila isn't barren after all? What are the odds of Tubal-Cain getting on that ark? Bet now...
Noah is ambitious but goes on for too long and overcomplicates itself. What could have had a classic simplicity is expanded too much, especially after a promising start. The film seems scared of being too religious or secular, old or modern, and sits somewhere awkwardly in-between. Some special effects work (the flood and battle sequence), some don't (the 'tweaked' animals), and Ray Winstone steals the film playing Ray Winstone. Awkward subjects like incest (and, more importantly, who's going to clean up all that animal poop?!) are glossed over, focusing more on the turmoil of a man who has to make impossible choices.
An interesting watch, but not quite the epic it could have been.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10