NoahTitle: Noah (2014)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Runtime: 138 minutes

I had no desire to really see Noah, the latest offering from the love it or hate it director Darren Aronofsky. His films are usually my cup of tea, and The Fountain is one of my favorite films of all time because it’s so emotional. The biggest problem with Noah, and my lack of interest, comes in the form of me not being familiar with the Bible, nor any interest in religion at all, so please be warned that I don’t know what the hell I just saw.

Everyone knows the story of Noah: God tells him to build an ark, and to place all of the Earth’s animals on it, one male and one female. At this point, God creates a great flood and cleanses the land of the sins that man has brought unto it.

Noah Starts a little differently. It tells the story of Adam and Eve, their children, and the destruction that man wrought, and the fallen angels, which the film calls the Watchers. Noah is the 10th generation son of Seth, one of the three sons of our famous couple.

The film opens with Noah becoming a man and his father being slain. It then jumps ahead a good number of years, and he has a wife and three boys. One day, he sees a flower suddenly sprout out of the ground. Later that evening, he gets a vision of the world being flooded, and mankind perishing. He’s confused by this, and later has another vision to go see his grandfather.

At this point the film just jumps into a fantasy world, and please be aware I had no idea what Watchers were and that they were actually mentioned in the bible as fallen angels who gave man a few special gifts, one of which was talent to do some nifty little tricks. To me, this all came off as fantasy, and the design of the Watchers is rather odd, until you’re told of their creation which then makes the design make sense, even if it looks weird. So from this point on I viewed the film as a fantasy epic, and I was drawn in completely.

Darren Aronofsky is a very talented man. From the setting of the film, to the way time advances and shifts is often breathtaking. At one point, someone uttered a “wow” in the theater. I expected nothing less from the man behind The Fountain (which, seriously, if you haven’t seen it, please do yourself a favor and check it out). It’s hard to imagine how life was back then, and oddly enough, Aronofsky goes with an almost post-apocalyptic tone so the film feels very Mad Max at times. Mixed with the Watchers, and the special talents a few people have, the world just feels like a fantasy hybrid, and yet, after doing some minor research, seems to follow the biblical story rather well.

Russell Crowe has been one of my favorite actors ever since I saw Gladiator in the theater, and is really good here. I loved the way his makeup and hair is done throughout the film. Emma Watson plays a young woman adopted by Noah, and even with limited makeup and covered in muck, she’s a beauty. Not only that, but she has a really good scene near the end of the film.  However it’s Jennifer Connelly who steals the show as Noah’s wife. There’s a scene somewhere in the middle where she gives a speech to Noah about decisions that should or shouldn’t be made that actually made me shed a tear. There are a few moments near the end that brought that type of emotion out of me as well.

I can’t talk about this film without talking about the score by Clint Mansell, who I believe has done the score for every Aronofsky film to date. I know for a fact that he did the score for The Fountain because I own it. This soundtrack is beautiful, and at times haunting. Patti Smith’s “Mercy Is” that plays during the credits is beautiful as well, and kept me in the theater during the credits.

I went into Noah expecting to hate it. I hadn’t watched any trailers because it’s Noah, and everyone knows the story. This film isn’t going to be for everyone. In fact, the couple behind me walked out before the ark was even finished, and that’s their loss. I can’t say this is spot on for biblical accuracy, but I don’t think that matters because it delivers a solid story and covers things that I hadn’t seen covered before. Hell, it even had me looking information up about the Bible, and that’s something I didn’t think would happen. With that being said, I can safely say that Noah is the first film of 2014 that I’ve loved. I really recommend checking this one out on the big screen, and going in with an open mind regardless of your religious beliefs.

four_stars

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.