BY AMBER KELLY-ANDERSON
Director Darren Aronofsky, when he’s at his best, walks the fine line between genius and camp. His latest film, dystopian eco-parable Noah, strays from its source material in ways that are more odd than enlightening. Worse is his crime of mish-mashing a potentially good film with insipid CGI monsters and distracting origin stories, like the Old Testament of Mordor, leaving the film feeling confused and unoriginal.
A plot summary of Noah won’t facilitate much understanding of the film aside from to clarify expectations for those seeking a Biblical film. Granted, there are animals, a large seaworthy vessel and a deluge to purge the world. But there are also rock people who were once angels and the ruins of technologically advanced cities. No really, rock people, like Salvador Dali reimagined the rocks in The Neverending Story.
Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family are righteous survivalists, wandering through the world like extras from Mad Max. Crowe is actually quite good as Noah, a man who is torn between his legacy as the last survivor of the line of Seth and trying to grasp fully what that means. Reuniting Crowe with his A Beautiful Mind costar Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife, Naameh, is a shrewd choice–the pair have a natural chemistry that lends any type of relationship believability. Naameh, like Alicia Nash, grapples with her devotion to her family and the heartbreak of loving a troubled man. Their scenes together are the best of the film. Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins and Logan Lerman are also competent, despite being given roles that limit them to one or two acting choices for the entire film (desperation, lunacy and angst, respectively).
Indeed, there are elements of Noah that could have made for a good film. The arrival of the actual flood, with the family inside the ark and the condemned howling through the walls, alludes to the movie that could have been. A prior scene, where the sinners attack the ark, is like the Battles of Helm’s Deep but with those pesky rock people. Aronofsky, perhaps in trying to keep with his style or perhaps seduced by the large budget, squanders good actors and visual effects on the rock monstrosities and unnecessary plot additions.
Of those plot additions there is little to say, aside from, while keeping in the theme of the Old Testament, they are unnecessary. Roughly 13 people walked out of my showing, including one man who admonished Aronofsky as a “liar”. For those looking for a true Biblical movie, best give Noah a wide berth. For those looking for an entertaining epic, Noah stumbles by frittering away its assets, particularly its actors, drowning them in a flood of nonsense.