Noah (2014) Movie Review “A Grand, Epic, Beautiful and Controversial Biblical Tale”

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“Noah” actually made my Top 20 most anticipated films of the year list. Yet, when “Noah” was released for a variety of reasons I wasn’t able to see it (along with “Need for Speed”). I didn’t forget about it though, I did plan to see (both of) them before the end of the year and review them. So I finally was able to see “Noah”, which was a critically well received movie but I know was generally mixed and controversial amongst the audiences. Some of it (not all but some) has to do what your religionist beliefs are and some are how much the film changed from the original source material. Whenever you have a film based on religious text you’re generally going to get controversy from somewhere. Knowing all of that going into this film (and being able to put your own religious beliefs aside), this is a sweeping, emotional, well told and acted biblical epic that earns both its praise and it’s controversy.

“Noah” retells the story of “Noah’s Ark” ,from the book of Genesis, where Noah is told by God (here referred to as the “Creator”) of the impending destruction of man where a great flood will sweep the earth to cleanse it of man’s wickedness. Noah is to build a great ark for all of the animals to survive in, but the descendents of Cain will try to take the ark by all means possible. Noah, descendent of Seth, under the protection of the Watchers will have to face nearly impossible choices as Noah and his family try to survive this impending doom.

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The original story of “Noah’s Ark” is only a few passages long. If you’re going to turn that into a full length feature film, it’d be 15 minutes at most (17 with ending credits). You wouldn’t have a movie if you’d stay as true to the source material as possible. Which I understand some are going to take issue with changing the original story for their big screen adaptation. Religious text is very important to so many people so it’s no wonder why some of the Christian and Jewish communities got upset with the film.

If you don’t mind changes to source material, then this is where the film shines. “Noah” isn’t just a story of Noah but it’s a story of family, retribution, and the wickedness of mankind and even hope. “Noah” stays firmly focused on the character of Noah and his family, creating imperfect characters. Noah isn’t perfect and has flaws which makes for a much more interesting character viewing.

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When you watch the trailers you think you get a good sense of where the film is going. Pretty standard storytelling with some new added elements but the trailers don’t give anything away, the movie goes into many different and unexpected territories. At a certain point it started to feel like the film was trying to controversial for the sake of being controversial yet it comes together at the very end and ties everything together in a nice neat bow with the themes of the film coming to a satisfying conclusion.

Director Darren Aronofsky and screenwriter Ari Handel don’t just bring the story of Noah into the fold but also encapsulates several other stories from biblical scripture. Brilliantly this team of writers brings together the story creation (which also marries creationism with evolution) and the story of Cain. Bridging these tales together helps beaks open a simple tale into something a lot more epic and grand.

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Aronofsky’s talent from behind the camera continues to show and impress. Aronofsky creates grand sweeping visuals that engulf the screen. The film’s cinemato
graphy is eye popping, and helps set a moody tone for the audience. “Noah” is the most mainstream friendly of Aronofsky’s movies to date. While it’s never unintelligent, it’s never nearly as challenging or mind-bending as “Pi”. Aronofsky instead finds a way of making the film complex and engaging without becoming confusing to the average viewer.

Aronosky also brings together an incredible cast of actors. Russell Crowe (whom is no stranger to large scale epics) plays the title role of Noah. He is without a shred of a doubt a commanding presence on screen whom plays the role with conviction and heart. Jennifer Connelly plays his wife and brings a caring motherly personality with a good dose strong will. Emma Watson steps out of her Hermione Granger role (from Harry Potter) into an emotionally engaging performance. Ray Winstone is one of the best character actors in the business today and proves why. Winstone is fearsome and intimidating as someone willing to do anything to take the Ark. All these performances are nothing short of incredible. Aronofsky has a talent with working with actors and gets the best out of them here as well.

Russell Crowe as Noah

“Noah” may be highly controversial (and for some good reason) but the controversy shouldn’t overshadow what an incredible biblical epic that Aronofsky and his team have manage to craft. I wish I saw it in theaters a few months back but it was well worth the wait.

Final Score

8.5/10

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