Noah Holds Barred: Builders of the Lost Ark
Noah is a serious-minded although misguided attempt to fashion a big-buck bigscreen epic from the Biblical story of Noah. The film is not disrespectful to the source material, nor however is it successful in presenting the story in a compelling or inspiring manner.
In the title role of Noah, earthy Russell Crowe must be something of a Gladiator, become a Master and Commander (of his Ark), and possess a Beautiful Mind – or at least one receptive to the word of the Creator. Jennifer Connelly, reunited with Crowe from A Beautiful Mind (2001) – for which she won an Oscar – and with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky from Requiem for a Dream (2002), plays Noah’s stalwart but sensitive wife Naameh, who stands by her man as the waters rise.
Noah has seen visions of mankind’s impending destruction and resolves to build an Ark by which he and his family – and the animals of the planet, of course – can survive the flood. The Creator sends Noah some help in the form(s) of fallen angels relegated to walking the Earth and resembling what can only be described as “rock creatures.” Despite these beings voiced by the likes of Frank Langella and Nick Nolte, this is a notion that should have been tossed out in the first draft.
By all appearances, it seems as if the Transformers built the Ark.
Under Aronofsky’s direction, Noah is a long-winded, oddly paced and strangely scripted saga. With the flood occurring midway through the proceedings, the second half of the film floats along as aimlessly as the Ark does, finally coming to rest and to its conclusion, at long last. (One needn’t have read the book to know how it all turns out.)
Ray Winstone, matching Crowe scowl for scowl, plays resident bad guy Tubal-cain. He and his merry band of marauders want the Ark for themselves, come hell or high water – literally. Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Leo McHugh Carroll play Noah and Naameh’s sons, while Emma Watson plays Ila, an orphaned girl who becomes part of their family. Anthony Hopkins periodically turn up to offer some wheezy wisdom as Methuselah – a role fairly similar to his Odin in the Thor movies.
Actually, the cast isn’t one of the film’s problems.
The actors all perform with conviction and sincerity, and Hopkins’ doddering is not without its pleasures, familiar and mild though they may be.
The considerable talents of Aronofsky, also a producer and co-writer of the screenplay with executive producer Art Handel, seem to have deserted him somewhat in these circumstances. Too often do he and the film rely on extensive – and undoubtedly expensive – CGI effects to tell the tale, and in doing so miss the boat entirely (no pun intended). Given the pedigree of those involved, Noah cannot help but be interesting, but mostly it’s just an interesting failure.