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“Noah” drowns in big budget

Russell Crowe stars in "Noah"a
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Noah (2014)

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The first film with a truly epic scope of the season, “Noah” is ambitious to a fault. Darren Aronofsky is a great director and an even better storyteller but all that is sadly lost in the Biblical tale. Aronofsky is known for indie hits “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Wrestler,” and, most recently, “Black Swan,” all films that spectacularly create these vibrant characters that jump off the screen. In “Noah” though, Aronofsky’s first big budget attempt to date, he obviously had way too much fun creating the special effects, forgetting to actually create characters that are interesting and round.
The film really is a crime to the incredible cast that is gathered. The acting isn’t bad as everyone did the best they could with what was written in the script but unfortunately there is just not enough flesh for the actors to play with. Russell Crowe does the best with what he’s got but his character is, to be blunt, a dick. He spirals out of control, making the illogical jump from building the ark to basically eliminating the entire human race by killing his own granddaughters. Jennifer Connelly is fine but her character of Naameh just blindly follows whatever her husband tells her to do up until he proclaims that he has to kill everyone because God told him to. Emma Watson and Logan Lerman are wasted, as their characters are flat and winey. Anthony Hopkins randomly pops up as Methuselah, a pseudo-magical being who is obsessed with berries. He obviously heals Watson’s Ila so she could now have children and upon leaving him she jumps the bones of her adopted brother/boyfriend but then later says she didn’t know she was healed until she got pregnant. So basically, her weird conversation with granddad really revved her engine. Because how does that not put you in the mood? And Connelly’s Naameh knew Ila was pregnant by looking in an empty teacup? I had no idea she learned divination at Hogwarts. Ray Winstone is the only character that is more than one note so it is unfortunate that he is just as uninteresting.
Temporally, it was impossible to figure when as well as where this is taking place. They are tribal and fight with swords yet Winstone’s character is welding weaponry with a pretty modern looking blacksmith mask. And, Noah and his family were bizarre hunter-gatherers who hung out with the Watchers? And what the hell were the Watchers except the stupidest rip-off of ents from “The Lord of the Rings” ever conceived.
Visually it is impossible to deny that it was beautiful and awe-inspiring. This is why it is such a shame that everything else stunk. Not only is it way too long at two hours and 19 minutes but the characters are so flat that you struggle to really care. Aronofsky is a great director but all that skill is lost behind a pointless and poorly written script that is at times just plain dumb. The special effects are great but as that is really the only draw to this turkey don’t waste your money on a matinee. Commercially it will undoubtedly score big in the box office but aesthetically it should bring pause to movie execs before doling out such a budget for an Aronofsky vehicle. He should stick to what he does best, creating real characters with an emotional tale. The rain drowned the earth and the special effects drowned this movie’s chance to be anything but boring.