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Forget all the “is it faithful to The Bible or not” chatter. The real thing to be thinking about going in to see director Darren Aronofsky’s epic is “how are they going to turn the Bible story into a two-hour twenty-minute movie?” And how, you might ask, they’re going to spice things up with all manner of crazy new additions – yes, this is a movie where fallen angels have turned into rock monsters. The real answer involves less magical fantasy and more shots of a brooding Russell Crowe.
He’s Noah, last of the line of the non-evil offspring of Adam and Eve, and while Man in general has basically trashed the planet Noah, his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and their three sons – plus the young girl (Emma Watson) they later adopt – are living an environmentally friendly life out in the wilds. Then Noah has a vision: The Creator (God is never named “God” here) is going to drown the world and they need to visit Noah’s grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) to figure out a plan. No prizes for guessing what the plan involves, or that it pisses off the local king, Tubal Cane (Ray Winstone).
Much of what you might expect to be the tough stuff in a Noah tale is glossed over: the animals simply turn up at the Ark, while Noah’s invented some kind of sleepy smoke that knocks them out and stops them from causing trouble. Actually, building the Ark is straightforward, too, thanks to the help of the fallen angel rock monsters, freeing up the film to focus on its real concern: what it’d be like to watch the whole world drown.
Crowe is excellent at showing Noah’s decent core slowly buckling under the strain of being ‘The Chosen One’; unfortunately, the story we all know isn’t a great fit for the one Aronofsky wants to tell, and the real story here turns out to be Noah’s judgment call that all humanity needs to end for The Creator’s will to be done.
For a story about people trapped on a boat with a nutcase who wants them all to die, this isn’t all that suspenseful either: while the mix of the epic and the intimate works well, this really feels too long and too slight to be a real success.
Written by Anthony Morris