Noah Review
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While religious-based films have received a higher profile in recent years, most are still lower-budget productions with C-list stars and unknown directors. And then there’s Noah, a massive production with a big budget, major studio backing, and a well-known cast—helmed by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky. When the project was announced, most of us didn’t know what to expect—for good reason. But, in retelling the familiar Bible story, the director offers a deeper, more thought-provoking, and sometimes stranger perspective on the characters and their calling.

This epic take on the story of Noah stars Russell Crowe as the biblical hero. After Cain’s brutal murder of his brother, Abel, the world was split into two groups: the industrious descendents of Cain and the peaceful, natural descendents of Cain’s younger brother, Seth. As the descendents of Cain become more violent and greedy, Noah, a descendent of Seth, begins having dreams about the world’s destruction by a great flood. Convinced that God is speaking to him, Noah sets out to build a huge ark to save the innocent—the animals—from God’s wrath. But as the time comes closer, he faces challenges from both the descendents of Cain and his own family.

  
 
Aronofsky’s Noah doesn’t exactly tell the story as you remember it from your Sunday school days. There are a few unexpected twists here—most notably, the giant fallen angels made of stone, called the Watchers, who assist Noah in his task. These unexpected plot points can be distracting—and, admittedly, they make it more of a challenge to get caught up in the story. For a while, you might think you’re watching the latest Peter Jackson fantasy—not a biblical drama. But once you get beyond the film’s strange artistic touches, it offers a thoughtful assessment of a familiar story.

Noah’s part of the Bible is rather short and to-the-point, but Aronofsky expands on the story by exploring a more human perspective. This isn’t just a story about Noah being told what to do and following the directions out of faith. Instead, in the midst of the storms and battles, the film examines how Noah and his family might have handled their calling to build an ark to save the animals while letting the rest of humanity die. Noah wrestles with decisions, struggling to do what God wants him to do without knowing exactly what that is. In doing so, he often clashes with his family, growing colder and more stubborn as he continues on his mission. And when it’s finally time to close the doors and float away, he and his family are faced with the terrible reality of their calling while being forced to listen to the screams of the dying.

Along the way, Crowe holds strong as the conflicted patriarch. You won’t always like him—at times, in fact, you might even hate him—but he gives the role strength and character. And he’s perfectly paired with Jennifer Connelly, who adds heart and humanity in her emotional performance as Noah’s wife, Naameh.

Noah may not stay true to every detail of the Bible story—and Aronofsky may sometimes take his artistic license a bit too far. But this biblical epic offers an eye-opening and emotional new perspective on a familiar story. After seeing it, you’re sure to see the story from Sunday school in a whole new light.


Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah goes beyond the story to explore the challenges involved in filming this biblical epic. The lengthy, three-part making-of feature covers everything from the remote Icelandic setting to the enormous sets to the more personal sides of the filmmaking story. In The Ark Exterior, you’ll even get to meet the eccentric English teacher who inspired a teenage Aronofsky to write.

No matter what you may think of the film’s story, after watching the special features, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the film’s production. So after watching the movie, be sure to take the time to check out the extras—even if you only have time to skim them.

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