“Noah” Movie Review

     Regardless of it's biblical roots, director Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" plays exactly like a typical fantasy film in the vein of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy or the HBO series "Game of Thrones".  Because the events depicted are so fantastical, it seems rather silly to debate any kind of historical accuracy, as the story strays from any sense of reality early on and remains in a purely fictional realm for it's duration.  Because Aronofsky completely avoids the use of the term "god" during the film, the pretentious tone I expected was non existent, with the story playing out like the mainstream film I believe he meant it to be.  "Noah" essentially is a plug and play exercise for a variety of audiences.  A Christian audience will likely marvel at the creative vision, as events they have read about their entire lives play out on screen with all of the visual splendor a mega budgeted film can offer.  Conversely, the film has tremendous appeal for those who choose to ignore it's religious source material, instead opting to view "Noah" through the lens of a full on movie going and event picture experience.  Either way, mission accomplished for Paramount Pictures. 

     Graduating from the art house scene with the critically acclaimed films "Black Swan" and "Requiem For A Dream" to his credit, Darren Aronofsky crosses over to a much larger and more lavish production and delivers a unique vision of the famed story of "Noah's Ark".  The result is a concoction of part Oliver Stone, part Terrence Malik, and a massive dose of Ridley Scott.  The central theme deals with the creation of life and the belief our creator is a higher being who has the power to end the world as we know it should he become displeased with the human race and it's behavior.  Present are Stone like hyper edited images and montages depicting the moments in which Adam and Eve are created in the creator's image.  Shots of the serpent (snake) and the consuming of the forbidden fruit are also featured, but not necessarily explained.  In Malik's 2011 film "Tree of Life", he presents a very existential visual analysis of the Earth being created through the theory of evolution, similar to what Aronofsky presents here in several montages that depict how the creator evolved the planet and human life.  Both of Scott's films "Gladiator" and "Kingdom of Heaven" have a striking resemblance to the setting and characters in "Noah", with descendants of Adam and Eve fighting for their rightful place as King which results in needless brutality and atrocity.  Aronofsky manages to combine these attributes together in a very coherent and well thought out narrative, all the while balancing the overall look with the substantial use of CGI.

     Noah, played by Russell Crowe, has a premonition during a dream in which our creator will destroy the human race by drowning in a ocean like flood and has chosen him to protect the innocent from harm.  By innocent, he refers to one male and one female representing each and every other species on Earth.  This includes everything from common animals to insects.  In order to accomplish this, Noah builds an Ark capable of safely containing these animal species in what is essentially a  giant floating fortress.  Helping him with this immense task of labor are the "Watchers", a group of fallen angels who have taken the form of massive stone like beings.  The story as we know it basically concludes just over half way through the film.  As the Ark nears completion, the animals begin to arrive and take their place within the structure.  When a self declared King, Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) arrives with an army and tries to take possession of the Ark by force, Noah's vision of an apocalyptic flood becomes a reality with only Noah, his family, and Tubal-Cain escaping certain death.

     The film sets itself apart and strays from the effects heavy action centerpiece with a third act centering on a strong emotional subplot.  With the creator choosing Noah to save the innocent while every other member of the human race is annihilated by the flood, the question then arises as to what should become of Noah and his family, which includes a wife (Jennifer Connelly), three sons (Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Leo Carroll), and an adopted daughter (Emma Watson).  The best scenes in the film occur in this act and there's plenty to determine as it turns out between the family itself, as well as the group's unwanted guest.  Aronofsky ratchets up the tension considerably, as the decisions made by key characters threaten to determine the fate of everyone involved.

     Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of viewing a film like "Noah" is the questions it dares to ask.  Who is our creator?  What what purpose were we created and put here on Earth? The thought brought me right back to similar questions I had during another Ridley Scott film, 2012's "Prometheus".  In that film, a group of scientists travel to another world and discover the alien race that created human kind, finding they intended to exterminate us  because of our violent past nearly 2000 years before.  If one thinks from a more scientific point of view, the possibility we were created by an alien race from another planet makes a lot more sense than an all powerful creator putting a man and a woman, created in his own image, on the Paradise that is Earth, allowing them to then multiply.  It should be noted in both scenarios, our creators thought it was necessary to hit the reset button due to our own greed, violent nature, and utter stupidity.  People can believe what ever they choose to, but in either theory, the end result indicates we have a lot of work to do in order to become what this creator likely envisioned.  GRADE: B