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'Noah' Review: A thinking man's bible epic

Watchers descend from the sky
Watchers descend from the sky
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Noah (2014)


Darren Aronofsky is the Cecil B. Demille of our times.

Both men produced or directed movies based on bible stories or themes; Demille, with "The King of Kings" (1927), "Samson and Delilah" (1949), and "The Ten Commandments" (1956), and now, Aronofsky, with "Noah" (2014). All of these films are based on Bible stories/personages/themes and feature an epic soundtrack, a large cast of extras, and powerful scenes befitting their subject matter.

Watch the trailer for "Noah"

That's where the similarities end between Demille's work and Aronofsky's. While Demille went to pains to ensure biblical accuracy in his films, Aronofsky, as we discover in the first 5 minutes of "Noah" could care less about biblical accuracy; the Genesis story is merely the template he uses to consider bigger questions that more devout treatments, like Demille's epics or the "The Bible" miniseries, wouldn't touch.

Those expecting biblical accuracy will be disappointed; but the open-minded will find a beautifully-crafted and thoughtful film of the same caliber we've come to expect from the director of "The Fountain" and "Black Swan."

"Noah" might even be said to be delightfully un-biblical--the first 15 minutes are as good as any sci-fi or superhero movie; Earth looks like an alien planet, with a star-filled daytime sky, at least 1 unrecognizable creature, and a Jor-el-like father who initiates a Superman-like son into his status as protector of Creation. Noah is Superman without the powers--those are reserved for the grandfatherly Methuselah, played by Anthony Hopkins.

The acting in "Noah" is stellar, with Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson offering noteworthy performances as Noah, Noah's wife Naameh, and Noah's foundling-daughter, Ila. Connelly deserves special recognition for the depth she gives to Noah's wife, a woman torn and pulled by conflicting emotions, who loves and trusts her husband, but confronts him when she feels that he may be misguided.

Now, there is the issue of the Watchers... Those who have only read the Genesis story will probably be scratching their heads, saying "Waa?" when they appear on screen. For some, these "beings" may signal the film's total departure from anything biblical. In fact, they are drawn from lesser-known Jewish and Christian writings known collectively as the Apocrypha, which feature myths of fallen angels, giants, and Earth before the Flood as their setting. For those familiar with these stories, the Watchers enrich and lend a kind of credibility to the film.

See/Rent/Skip: See (It's a biblical epic!). Aronofsky is an artist, and seeing this movie in theaters gives you the best chance to be immersed in his art and the mythical world that he creates. Be advised though, that, despite the PG-13 rating, some scenes are very graphic and at least one or two are highly-disturbing, so be prepared for a movie that doesn't shy away from the reality of a world-ending Flood.