Noah is director Darren Aronofsky’s first film in four years, and his first big-budget studio production. Aronofsky helped start the low-budget indie movement with Pi (1998), and then created indie hits like Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Wrestler (2008), and Black Swan (2010), so a $125 million sci-fi biblical action film seemed out of the ordinary for him – especially because he is a noted atheist. Nonetheless, I was excited about this movie, despite the seemingly constant dispute with studios over who gets the final cut (Aronofsky did, thankfully).
With Noah, the question begs: who is this movie for? Given the inclusion of Watchers (rock monsters/angels) and continual biblical inaccuracies, it’s not for the religious crowd. It’s not for Aronofsky fans either though. Any attempt for a character study is cut down by the need for action. This film is apparently for the crowd who wants to see the story of Noah’s ark manipulated into a sci-fi blockbuster, which I can’t imagine is a large group of people.
The biggest issue with the film are the pacing problems. The climactic battle scene occurs about halfway through, and then there’s an entire extra act where the people are on the ark. The movie is trying to make things exciting, but the pace slows down for the finale and makes you wish that the film was just over already. Noah also doesn’t deal with the issue of time all that well. Eight years pass as they make the ark, but although the actors are older, the transition seems forced. Similarly, nine months pass while on the ark, but it seems like only a few weeks.
The performances are good, at least. Although the character isn’t written all that well, Russell Crowe handles the title role without much difficulty. Anthony Hopkins is solid in his small role, albeit it’s a bit silly. Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Douglas Booth are all decent, even if you can’t see past them as the actors. Ray Winstone is incredibly intimidating as the main antagonist though, really stealing the show. Jennifer Connelly unfortunately just isn’t given a lot to do.
The special effects in the movie are magnificent. If for nothing else, you can sit back and enjoy the visual aesthetics of the film. Noah also does some really interesting things with sound editing, creating an immersive environment. Unfortunately, the script is ridden with plot-holes, and it takes itself far too seriously. While it’s an entertaining enough experience, I’m hoping that Aronofsky will stick with independent films in the future. 6/10.