Combustible Celluloid
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With: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth, Leo McHugh Carroll, Dakota Goyo, Marton Csokas, Madison Davenport, Kevin Durand, Nick Nolte, Mark Margolis, Frank Langella
Written by: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Running Time: 138
Date: 03/28/2014

Noah (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Noah's Flood Work

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Since the beginning of movies in color and wide screen, filmmakers have tried to make Biblical epics, and the results have usually wavered between magnificent, stuffy, and silly. Darren Aronofsky's Noah is no different.

Russell Crowe stars as Noah, who does not hear the voice of God, but has a vision that the world will be destroyed by water. He learns that he has been chosen to build an ark and save all the animals of the world.

In this story, he has a family, including wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and three sons who look like they are played by male models equipped with one expression apiece. Fortunately, the family discovers a young wounded girl and saves her. She grows up to be Ila (Emma Watson), who helps carry some of the drama.

The Noah story is a good one, having lasted millennia, but Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel add several weird new elements to it, the weirdest of which are a batch of giant rock monsters that help defend the ark.

In this version, the human rabble that God has decided to destroy does not go down without a fight. This allows the filmmakers to stage a grayish, noisy battle sequence, just as the rains begin, with much shouting and splashing about. During the fight, the leader of the evil hordes, Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), manages to stow away on the ark and is somehow not discovered for months. He sustains himself by grabbing the nearest small reptile and biting into its head.

Meanwhile, the movie more or less turns into The Shining, with cooped-up characters slowly going homicidal on each other. But never fear: the ultimate point of Aronofsky's giant vision is that human beings are capable of choosing kindness and love.

Anthony Hopkins appears in a few scenes as Methuselah, Noah's grandfather. Hopkins gets one great moment, savoring a berry just a moment before a wall of water blasts him into oblivion.

Noah definitely has many such moments, such as the ship first surfacing from the flood waters, or shots of the primitive, breathtaking interior design of the ark. Crowe, Connelly, and Watson are quite good as well, finding primal emotions for a primal time.

Additionally, Aronofsky adds a few brief lunatic moments that truthfully underline the hubris of a director willing to take on such a monumental tale. Perhaps there is no way to make a totally straightforward movie of this type; magnificence, pomposity, and a little cheerful insanity all go along for the big watery ride.

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