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'Noah' review: Flooded with savagery and modern morals

Darren Aronofsky, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone attend a premiere of "Noah."
Darren Aronofsky, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone attend a premiere of "Noah."
Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International

Noah (2014)


Receiving drastically varied responses from audiences, “Noah” has received mild critical praise but hatred from many groups. The film strays from the Biblical tale, an offense for many Christians along with many audiences being turned off by magical elements, such as talking rocks. However, any adaptation of a book, even the “Good Book,” will include changes to the story based on the director’s interpretation. “Noah” is Darren Aronofsky’s vision that focuses on Noah’s commitment to his task as his family’s will challenges him. Skipping the religious discussion in favor of focusing on the filmic elements, “Noah” has numerous faults. Ray Winstone’s over-the-top, vicious villain makes a mockery of the tale, relying on cheesy, horror and thriller gimmicks to tastelessly emphasize a clash of perspectives. And the tremendous amount of CGI is occasionally bland and washed out (no pun intended), especially in the images of a plethora of dreary animals.

Experiencing ominous visions from the Creator, Noah (Russell Crowe) realizes that he must take action to prepare for the upcoming flood. Seeking advice from Grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), Noah begins to build an ark, with the help of giant rock creatures, to shelter representatives of the world’s species along with his family. He sees no future for humanity, but his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) still sees innocence in mankind. She watches as her sons, Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), turn into man and teens, but Noah is blind to their desires. Shem is besotted with barren Ila (Emma Watson), but his other sons have no companions. Ham is drawn to the dangerous world of the savage men, led by Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), who takes whatever he wants.

“Noah” is a critical perspective of mankind. Though there will always be good and innocence, mankind will always face war and savagery as jealousy and selfishness live on. Referencing Cain and Abel, a montage of battling, silhouette “brothers” fight over generations. Aronofsky shows both the good and evil of man, but his film works as a fable for modern man; environmental consciousness dominates the film’s moral as man destroys the earth and its inhabitants (also, it’s pro-vegetarianism). To save the world, the evil of men must die, but our free will and goodness will not be the executioner of our brothers.

Though it’s an epic story, famed independent filmmaker Darren Aronofsky strays too far into the Hollywood Blockbuster realm. To avoid using live animals, all animals are animated with special effects. Fallen angels are transformed into rock creatures. And there is, of course, a sneaky bad guy that just won’t die. All of these combined create a distraction to the real investigation into Noah’s psyche as he struggles to interpret God’s purpose.

A cast of stars cannot make “Noah” float. The crazy presentation is too much a big action epic to let the focus stay on Noah’s moral dilemma. Ultimately, it is not clear who is the intended audience as it veers too far from the Biblical passage yet becomes too dark and thoughtful for effects-loving audiences.

Rating for “Noah:” C-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Noah” is playing at the majority of theatres in Columbus, including Gateway and Movie Tavern. For showtimes, click here.