Amid the controversy of this film from both mainstream and Christian media outlets, the only question that matters is this: Is the film any good?
Yes, the answer is yes. Darren Aronofsky’s revisionary take on the Genesis tale is quite an engaging film when you look past the controversy and uproar of how the film deviates from the source material. If you do, then you can actually enjoy the message that Aronofsky and Company are sending. This film highlights Noah as an obedient servant of his Creator that is willing to do all that is asked of him. It also showcases how this task can change the man that Noah had become, and the downward spiral that his mind takes. Something which is very troubling to his family.
Noah is a tale of morality and justice between doing what is “necessary” and what is right. Everyone in this film follows a similar path: from being obedient for their father/superior, to questioning this same being. A journey of self-discovery and thinking for oneself leads to the confrontations of the last half of the film. Noah deals with the mental and psychological consequences of being tasked with doing whatever is necessary to ensure the survival of all of the “innocent creatures” during the annihilation of man.
The film stars Russell Crowe as Noah, and the casting could not have been more perfect. Crowe’s demanding presence makes you focus on him intently as he helps you see the tremendous weight that is put on his shoulders. His glare begins solemnly enough and slowly deteriorates into an obsessive and grim look as the movie progresses. You watch as every move he makes is not necessarily the one he wants to make. His wife is played by Jennifer Connelly, who also starred in Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, and she represents the down-to-earth loving wife/mother who is struggling to keep her husband from the brink of madness. While she represents the moral backbone, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman’s characters (adoptive daughter and son, respectively) are the heart of the film, each fighting their own demons as the end of mankind looms. Rounding out the main cast are Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone. Hopkins plays the old and wise grandfather of Noah, who gives encouragement and guidance to all who visit him or found by him. Winstone plays a descendant of Cain and is the representation of the cause for the extinction of man. His villain may have been slightly generic, but Winstone delivers a great and empowering performance as a man who is desperately seeking the knowledge of why his Creator has forsaken his people.
The look of the film is quite astonishing. The backdrop, locations, and set designs are beautifully done and give the film a certain unique tone. Aronofsky’s signature montage-type shots also made it into the movie, especially shining during the creation/evolution scene. The most interesting use of effects in the film was not the giant floods of water or battle scenes, it was the Watchers (fallen angels) who helped Noah through his journey. I’m not sure how they were brought to life on the screen, but the stop-animation-like appearance the Watchers had was a bold choice to insert into a 21st century film. But by any means, I absolutely loved them and the overall look of the movie.
This biblical epic is an outstanding movie that is shrouded in unnecessary controversy. However, I believe that Noah triumphs over this backlash and can be enjoyed by all faiths and persons. Aronofsky delivers a beautiful look into one of the most harrowing and challenging journeys that one man can be tasked with. I definitely recommend it and I pray you enjoy it as I did.
Jody K Young