A movie of epic biblical scale with true moments of thought provoking drama and events, if not one that leaves you questioning religious and fantasy like influences that combine to make a weird mash up of feelings.
The plot clearly focuses on the story of Noah and the Ark, the vessel to help carry away the innocent and flush out the wicked from Earth. This film utilises this as it’s main wow factor but there’s substantial backstory to set up the world and Noah as a character chosen by God.
This really is a surprising project for director Darren Aronofsky to take on and though he does direct a massive dramatic CGI-fest of Creationist progression, it’s not the best thing he’s done as it falls down to over using CGI, which doesn’t look great all the time, e.g (the snake of Eden). The flaws are in moments of suspended disbelief that can sometimes be too much to cling onto, such as a significant stowaway, the entire character of Methuselah with winks and talk of berries that feel too comedic for what this film is about. The fallen stone angels reminded me of Ray Harryhausen and his charming jerky stop motion work, though in this movie that effect feels out of place. I don’t know how ‘The Watchers’ were made but it looks similar to the skeleton movements in ‘Jason and the Argonauts’. The main quality to this film that pays off, is in its intelligent stance of provoking thought and more than once I sat wondering about the creation of the world thanks to watching this film. A movie that does over use CGI but not to a complete negative as it helps raise complex thoughts and emotions more than once.
Russell Crowe plays a character similar to others he’s portrayed in the past but helps bring life to the troubled titular character and goes through a worrying mean streak that helps demonstrate the evil in all mankind. Jennifer Connelly steps to the fore, at her moment of calling after standing in the background as supportive wife for the most part, when she confronts her husband and refuses to accept his actions, not forgiving him if he does something wholly despicable. A strong and emotional performance that gives fear of a slight oncoming teary eye. Emma Watson also has more to do than I expected and does really well with her role, especially in acting hugely sad, a trait we’ve not really seen much of in her young career. Another case of near teary eye when she tries to stand as protective mother amongst Noah’s streak of meanness sent down by the words of God. The sons are sort of just there and don’t really do much apart from set up the next phase of the Creationist movement and help illustrate how everyone could be deemed with some aspect of wickedness. Anthony Hopkins is Welsh and typically Hopkins in his role as Noah’s grandfather as he magically comes and goes and sets up visions to help further the story along, an odd exit to his character also.
The parts I found best were the artistic shots and ideas at certain points, such as the numerous beautiful backgrounds letting characters become moving silhouettes. The stop motion snapshot-esque sense as we follow the first stream on its journey is also cool. Then there’s a story narrated by Noah which uses the silhouette device once again but races through in snappy flipbook mode foreshadowing the evil of war to come and uses figures of knights, generals and soldiers to help push this point of sin in man. The vision of hell as Noah visits the camp of Tubal-cain is chilling, horrendous and 100% powerful. It’s certainly a film that looks opposingly beautiful and dirty in equal measure, helping strike up the wavering balance of good and evil thematically.
I can surely say that this film is more brutal than I was thinking it would be and the certificate of a 12A will surely raise some eyebrows as there’s a lot of darkness involved. Blood, death, tramplings, murder and general terror help push this biblical tale over the edge which makes this an interesting and entertaining film but perhaps it’s too much for the rating given. I just really want to know what religious people would make of this movie as that’s the debate that will surely follow this release. It follows on the most part but they never name God and instead call him the ‘Creator’ and slight alterations to creatures and displaced visuals don’t really give this film a solid era, it could be way in the past or way in the future. The main thing you get from all of this is that the world needs to be changed because of the wrongdoing in the human race, a thought that hits home as we still live in a world filled with just as much death and danger.
An interesting and epic movie with few moments of arty brilliance, if not a little unbelievable and too focused on CGI that detracts from further interpolation.