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'Noah' sinks more than it swims

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Noah

Rating:
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Star
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Release date: March 28, 2014

Written by: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly,

Official website: NoahMovie.com

The poster for "Noah" boasts a bald, bearded, and brooding Russell Crowe standing menacingly and holding an axe. It's a far cry from the Noah you probably grew up learning about in church and Sunday School, etc. But this isn't your Holy Bible's tale of Noah and his Ark.

And it isn't just the rock monsters that set it apart. More on them later.

In this brand new "epic" take on the old story, Darren Aronofsky tries to set his tale of Noah in a different light than that of the Bible version. The film never mentions God by name -- instead it's "the Creator" -- nor does it ever mention religion or Christianity. There is still a strong element of faith, but this is more of a mythical take at telling a story without upsetting or offending any religious groups.

Russell Crowe plays Noah, a simple family man who begins having dreams that humanity is about to be wiped from the Earth because people are living in sin and have lost their way. So, Noah feels it is his duty to build and ark and save the only innocent creatures on the planet, the animals. But crazy or not, he gets the attention of the King, a way over the top Ray Winstone, who wants his people to be included on the ark as well. Good luck, dude.

Then, there are the rock monsters. In the Bible, and this movie, they are called the Watchers. They are angels who fell to Earth to help humans but were condemned by the creator. Oh, and they look like "rock monsters" as their punishment for their Earthly desires. It's a cool theory, but they feel like something more out of a J.R.R. Tolkein book. Compile their goofy inclusion with some other silly over the top moments and it's hard to tell if everyone is taking this too seriously or not serious enough.

Director Darren Aronofsky does his best to make the tale of Noah feel like a necessary story to tell, but it's clear that every step has been taken to avoid upsetting anyone. And let's be honest, if you're going to tell this story, go all the way. The film spends so much time trying not to offend any potential audience members that a lot of it's messages about faith get lost in translation between the source material and the message it wants to get across about faith, etc.

The first half of the movie struggles with absurdity as Noah conflicts with the King, providing some of the films more laughable moments. No, they're not supposed to be laughable, but they are. By the time the flood hits -- and it's impressive when it does -- you're ready for these characters to be cleansed.

Russell Crowe is fine as Noah, but he offers no sympathy to the role. The rest of the cast seems just as unsure about how to approach their characters. Emma Watson plays the adopted daughter of Noah and for the most part provides a few nice scenes. Jennifer Connelly plays Noah's wife, but never really leaves being a modern woman behind and get into character. And then there is Ray Winstone, who chews as much scenery as he can, but his character is so obvious and bland that it's laughable.

"Noah" is a big, bloated, epic flick from a visionary director, but deep down, there is a tremendous film here. But, it goes on way too long. With a running time of nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes, there is too much excessive fat after the flood, even though this is when the film begins to offer some of it's most promising scenes of conflict.

Running time: 2 hours 19 mins

Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content

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