Aronofsky Goes Bold with ‘Noah’

I wrote off “Noah” after viewing what was some of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen: mediocre CGI effects, laughable line-delivery, and just general apathy about the entire premise. Bible stories and epics are overdone, and they’re often effect laden to a fault (see “The Ten Commandments” for the former, and “Evan Almighty” for the latter). The cast, led by Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelley, is not impressive enough to pique my interest either.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

In addition to that, the stories of several release date push-backs, financial problems, and mixed early test screen reactions did not boast well for director Darren Aronofsky. However, “Noah” is a case that exemplifies the old saying “don’t judge a movie by its trailer.” It’s a deeply philosophical study of man’s inherently flawed nature, disguised as a blockbuster epic.

In a dream, Noah sees that all life on Earth will be destroyed in a massive flood, and that he must build a massive ark to house all the animals. Noah and his family build the famous ark with the help of a couple of stone giants. Noah and his family are occasionally harassed by marauders from the Caine line of clan, who spread greed and industry that stripped the land of its resources, and ultimately served as justification for Noah’s flood.

Noah, portrayed by a brooding Russell Crowe, shares the same DNA as Aronofsky’s previous protagonists, where he leaps across the thin line between faith and fanaticism: “He chose me because he knew I would finish the job and nothing more.”

Darren Aronofsky boasts a pretty impressive filmography from his deliciously intense black-and-white indie debut “Pi” to the claustrophobic psychological thriller “Black Swan.” All his characters dealt with an obsession impulse that ultimately deteriorates the very soul of an individual, physically and psychologically.

Noah’s descent into madness is perfectly portrayed by Crowe, and a cast that consists of Jennifer Connelley, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman provide gentle supporting turns that complements such a weighty protagonist.

What’s interesting about “Noah” is how it tackles the themes of blind faith, self-righteousness and guilt. This is Darren Aronofsky’s take on “Noah” instead of a re-telling of the well-known bible story, and all for the better, because we get a “Noah” story for the modern world.

On the other hand, the narrative of the story is sometimes ridiculous and clunky, and some of the CGI animals looked like they were still rendering. Additionally, the entire film could have used an extra trimming or two in the editing room to sand the edges.

Last, but not least, what I want to applaud most is the fact that Darren Aronosfsky, a director known for small scale, intimate films, was able to clobber this monster of a bible epic into an unexpectedly deep study of the flawed nature of man. He had a clear vision of what he wanted and although not all of it worked, it was bold, ambitious, and often thought-provoking.

 

RECOMMENDED: “Noah” is a surprisingly deep study of man’s flawed nature in the guise of a big budget blockbuster.