Noah (2014)

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I kept telling myself that Aronofsky was making a huge mistake with his latest film “Noah.” That it felt as if this talented director was wasting a lot of time and money in making this early-season blockbuster. And all throughout its construction and publicity, whether it was the first images released, trailers, etc…I was adamant that the film wasn’t exactly drawing me in or provoking enough intrigue in me to buy a ticket. But more importantly, it wasn’t proving that I was wrong. All this, and I still found myself having seen it in its opening weekend. Yes, I purchased a ticket and sat in a theatre to view this biblical epic, isn’t that funny? So I guess either the public relation team did its job or I just subconsciously believed that Aronofsky would pull it off. Sadly however, it seems that my original skepticism was well placed and I was right all along…

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The biblical tale of Noah is one that has always fascinated me. As a child, the thought of living on a gigantic vessel carrying every animal in existence was something that stirred my imagination and broadened my humanity. And as I grew, it was as if the tale grew with me. I began to become more aware and paid closer attention to the moral conundrums and decisive humbleness bursting forth from this fable and its main character Noah. Of course, as I grew, the tale’s authenticity slowly succumbed to my increasing intelligence and eventually it’s genuineness dissipated all together. I mean, a tale like that you take with a grain of salt, as I do with every religious tale, and every religion for that matter.

It’s just, I’m not exactly devout to any religion. And I’m sure that won’t sit well with some readers, but I don’t encourage people to part ways with their beliefs simply because they’re different from mine, I just don’t share your point of view about the universe. Look, when creationism is laid out in front of you, much like it is in Aronofsky’s “Noah,” the hidden beauty of its philosophical magnitude really is something to marvel. That being said, its absurdity when placed opposite our universe and the rules that govern it: forces, evolution, dark matter and energy, elements, and so on, are just too much to overcome, but I digress…

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Aronofsky’s “Noah” feels like two-hours and twenty-minutes of pretentiousness. I’ve seen documentaries about serial murderers, rapists, and pedophiles that don’t paint humanity as dark a shade as “Noah” does. So much so that I don’t understand why some Catholics are so upset and intent on dismissing and destroying this film. Aronofsky provides god’s wrath, nearsightedness, and the mysterious ways in which he works in spades. Granted, the entire film isn’t always shrouded in filth and inhumanity. Towards the end, we get some magnificent scenes featuring the beautiful sky spawned by the creator, lined with a massive rainbow shinning with resplendent colours and flying doves. Stunning right? Yeah, this scene takes place right after Noah’s about to murder his two newborn granddaughters before his sons have a chance to commit the act of incest, seeing as there are no human women left after the flood for them to reproduce.

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Look, I’m not trying to take out Aronofsky’s knees. He’s an outstanding filmmaker that I respect and adore…he just could’ve picked a better project. The film’s technical aspects and visuals are radiant and masterful. There’s a scene in which Noah and his wife Naameh have an intense conversation against the bluish-red hue of the approaching Dawn where Aronofsky uses only their silhouettes to indicate interaction…pure brilliance. Conversely though, I felt that the battle scenes and cartoonish-villainy of Tubal-Cain could have been left on the cutting-room floor. They don’t add anything to the film’s depth and atmosphere. Additionally, the film really suffers from pacing issues and struggles with content portions and importance. That being said, at least the magnificent Clint Mansell, composer of the “Moon” and “Filth” soundtracks comes through with another remarkable score.

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The cast, featuring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Logan Lerman, was perhaps the only thing keeping me going while I waited for what was certainly going to be a misstep for the revered and immensely talented Aronofsky. Surprisingly however, this ensemble somehow managed to crumble under the film’s weak script, can you believe that?

Connelly and Watson stole the show for me, as much as they could anyway with what they were given. Crowe, who is an absolute tank in this film physically, gives it his all, but the character he is portraying has just too many flaws to overcome. As I mentioned earlier, Winstone really does create a strong villain, too bad it’s in the wrong film. Hopkins continues to appear briefly in movies, as he is just a shade of his former self, but hell, we all need a steady paycheque. Did I miss anyone? Oh yeah, Lerman is given a much broader role than his kin in the film, but can’t do much with it. Hey, at least he got to be mentored and obtained tons of advice from this cast of vets for a few months.

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Unfortunately, “Noah” is your typical blockbuster in the most general sense. Yes, it makes you think slightly more than most big-budget films and provides some stunning visuals to go along with the never ending feeling of guilt you now bear once you leave the theatre. It’s a mistake, plain and simple, for Aronofsky, cast and crew, but I’m certain they’ll recover.

Noah: 6 out of 10.

About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on April 3, 2014, in Action and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Good stuff : ) I’ll probably watch this when it comes out on VOD.

  2. That does sound pretty dark, wow. I was about to ask you if you’d had a religious upbringing, but then you got that all squared away and out in the open. I didn’t have a religious upbringing, but the story of Noah’s Ark always interested me too, mostly because of the animals. But then I grew up and it just started to seem more and more implausible, as did the Power Rangers…
    Great review though! Even though you found it pretentious, at least it gave you a lot to consider.

    • Thanks Smash! My upbringing wasn’t overly religious, but was present enough that I noticed. Regardless, like you mentioned, the story of Noah is intriguing to many, but we all need to grow up sometime ;). It’s definitely thought-provoking, but in a kind of taunting manner.

  3. Good review. It intrigued me more than actually entertained me, which is probably because of the type of director Aronofsky is.

  4. I’ve become a bit of an angry atheist after escaping quite a religious upbringing. I’m not sure I’m going to manage to watch this one without getting ranty. Probably best to avoid.

  5. Fine review. Admittedly, I’m becoming more and more curious of this film. I might take it in before it leaves theaters, now. Thanks.

  6. Nice review. Like you, I haven’t really been sold on this one from a marketing point of view but will probably end up seeing it anyway. I’m intrigued by the whole idea but fear I will come away disappointed.

  7. I liked the darkness of it and the conflicts within Noah’s mind. It’s by no means perfect but it had me thinking about it days later. I agree about how beautiful that dawn scene was

  8. I wasn’t at all interested in this but the divisive reviews now have my quite intrigued by it. I’ll probably still check it out but I’m not holding out a massive amount of hope for it to be honest.

  9. While I still have to see this one, your reaction to it reminds me of how I felt about The Fountain. Though many loved it, the film never grabbed me like I hoped.

  10. Interesting stuff. Wow, this movie is divisive. Can’t wait to see it!

  11. I have to disagree completely, Joe. I’m an atheist as well and I really enjoyed this film. The characters are unlikeable, it paints humanity as the worst thing ever, etcetera, but that’s the source material for ya! I get why you didn’t enjoy it but I think I was able to enjoy the experience despite that.

  12. Great review! I wanted to hold off reading it until I saw the film and wrote my own. I think your criticisms are spot on for the most part, but I feel I liked the movie a little more. Couldn’t agree more with you regarding the villain… He just did not fit for me. Plus the entire 3rd act just got a little too crazy for me, the final scene and Emma Watson’s speech notwithstanding. I posted my review, if anyone is interested. I am a Masters student in Hebrew Bible, so I looked at it from more of a textual viewpoint.

    http://fromthedeskandshelf.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/noah-a-review/

    • Thanks bud! Yeah, I really didn’t enjoy it as much as others. The third act kind of stays authentic to the original story, if I recall correctly, doesn’t it? The villainy of Winstone’s character is laughable, Watson was rather good despite her character’s weak scripting. I’ll read your post ASAP!

      • Thanks man! I guess I consider the third act to be the time on the ark itself… maybe that is more like the second act? Either way, I was referring to the time on the ark with the antagonist hiding out and his speeches along with the moral dilemma of Ham with the predictable outcome… all a little too cliche for me. I agree too that Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson did a great job, despite the writing. The final bit with the rainbow and Noah’s drunkenness is in the text and I thought it added a nice touch.

      • Yeah, I’d probably toss it in the second act instead of the third. Love that they stuck fairly close to the text with his drunkenness and the dove/rainbow. Wouldn’t mind being the last man alive with Connelly and Watson ;).

  13. I’ve seen decidedly mixed reviews on this, though many more positive ones than I would have expected. I thought it would completely tank, but it sounds like it’s not complete trash. Meh. I’ll probably wait until it’s out on DVD. Haha. Nice review, Joseph!

  14. I love Aronofsky’s movies and honestly at first glance this doesn’t even seem like his type of movie. I am with you in that none of the trailers, promos, have appealed to me. It looks so Hollywood annoying and almost reminds me of Water World at first glance. I said Water World… yes RUN as far as you can from this movie. I just realized that Water World is an ironic reference lol.

  15. Sound review man. I liked it a shade more, but yeah there are some very awkward protuberances from this narrative (the rock creatures/Watchers; Tubal-Cain, although I kind of appreciated the performance; Noah’s psychotic state later in the film). But I also felt Russell Crowe and some others were really damn good. Felt they handled a script that was bound to be just incredibly hard to write with a great deal of maturity and took it places. Then again, you’ve just read my Captain America review, so. . . . .:D

    • Thanks Tom! Yeah, as unsatisfying as Winstone’s character is, you have to appreciate his talent. Very true, any cast that tackles a script like this with such an invested maturity should be applauded. I just can’t help but feel that Aronofsky could’ve made something sooo much better with this time and money :).

  16. As I wrote in my review about it here: http://yyanchev.com/2014/04/06/noah/
    it is indeed not a great movie. But the performances (given the particular script) were great. All the main characters were “weary” and consciously “heavy” and “burdened” which I think comes from the very origin of this biblical story. I liked that.

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