[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00IZEATRM][/pullquote] Courting controversy has never bothered director Darren Aronofsky before and in his Biblical epic Noah, he once again stares down a weighty subject matter with his own keen eye for storytelling. Beset with studio interference, reshoots and other issues, Aronofsky has done an impressive job getting the story of the ark and the flood into cinemas and the results are in parts spectacular, maddening and even a little bit bonkers.
Receiving visions from the creator, Noah (Russell Crowe) is convinced of an upcoming flood and begins work on an ark to use to save the animals from extinction. Along with his family consisting of wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), son Shem (Douglas Booth) and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). Noah is beset by the villainous Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) as he attempts to build the ark and fill it with pairs of all the animals on Earth before the great flood strikes.
Approaching the subject matter with an more fantastical and science fiction edge, Aronofsky’s Noah introduces not only normal beasts and creatures, but more fantastical ones and represents the fallen angel types as rock monsters that speak like a Transformer. Really they’re the closest we’re likely to get to a live action interpretation of the Rock Lords from the Transformers rip-off Gobots universe. This is not a criticism either as Aronofsky and his team have taken huge liberties with the source material as you may expect, which goes a long way to explaining his comment before release that this was the least Biblical, Biblical epic of all time. He wasn’t kidding.
Aside from these virtual creations, there is Ray Winstone’s army, which wouldn’t look out of place in Middle Earth. All full of rage and desperation, launching a full-scale attack on the ark and providing some of the biggest and most impressive action scenes in the film. While the almost wizard-like Methuselah played with a eye-twinkling glee by Anthony Hopkins. His pontification on berries belies the films pro-vegetarian, pro-nature slant and it’s clear that Aronofsky sees the story of Noah as an environmental tale. Once you appreciate this approach it’s really difficult to see it as anything but, with the attempted genocide of any number of species directly linked to the mishandling of nature and the planet.
At the heart of this approach is Russell Crowe, a rage-willed eco warrior who maintains a hero/anti-hero balancing act as he drifts in and out of psychotic episodes. Thank God for Connelly’s Naameh, who grounds the emotional, human aspects of the film while Noah himself becomes obsessed with saving species’. The fact that he is even willing to delve into the realms of murder and sacrifice to achieve his ends highlights just how unlikeable he becomes before his inevitable redemption. Throughout his screams and shouts, beats the heart of a man desperate to fulfill the will of a creator who doesn’t necessarily talk to him, or even exist. This big thesis approach to the story does become alienating throughout the story and by the end there’s a real disengagement between audience and protagonist, which is a massive problem. The upsides being an almost-LSD-like creation story trip in the final act and more than that you’ll be thinking about the films big questions long after the credits roll.
By the time the water levels sink back and we survey what’s left of the land, Aronofsky’s Noah seems like a slightly confused and bizarre non-Biblical, Biblical film.