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Noah: Movie Review

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, Nick Nolte, Frank Langella, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins (Rated M – 138 min).

A film already shrouded in controversy which star Russell Crowe himself has openly admitted – it wasn’t unexpected. This re-imagining of the man chosen to undertake a momentous survival mission before an apocalyptic flood occurs deviates from the scripture taking considerable creative Hollywood enhanced biblical liberties.

Visionary director Darren Aronofsky uses ecological themes and family dilemmas as part of the extended narrative. No stranger to debate, Aronofsky turned the eloquent ballet Swan Lake into the multi personality sensual drama ‘Black Swan’ and guided an unwanted, washed up former ‘Nine and a Half Weeks’ heartthrob Mickey Rourke to an Academy Award nomination for ‘The Wrestler’.

Noah doesn’t run around, but for many this ship will not be all smooth sailing. Evolving fantasy elements such as a Lord of the Rings style battle scene takes place and an introduction of Fallen Angels, essentially a group of magnificent talking rocks is sure to raise eyebrows for those who remember the straight-forward story of Noah’s Ark at Sunday School. Debate may continue. As a film critic I saw this as an adventure tale which it is, on a grand scale with amazing Icelandic location sets and spectacular special effects.

Acting by gruff Crowe is a strong point, his integrity in monumental moral decisions evokes realism. Noah has two visions, one brought on by a serving of ‘special laced’ tea served by his sneaky Grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins – direct from Thor) then a second dream that the vast surrounding lands are about to turn reminiscent to Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Noah builds a boxy wooden craft, not the curved sleek ship as previously seen, in order to accommodate as many species of animals as possible but remains clouded in judgement whether to include his family or colleagues.

The creator as he is known in this film (God is never mentioned) speaks his concerns while Noah obeys. When the world’s biggest tsunami actually begins to hit, nature literally rises to the sky and is a cinematic achievement of effects no matter what you have thought of the story build up. No animals were harmed in the making as each one was created digitally. Look closely at many of the unique species, the tweaks are evident. Details like costumes by Australian designer Michael Wilkinson and a booming orchestral score add to the experience.

Too good looking for this era, Emma Watson and Jennifer Connolly bring emotional attachment, however are underused in favour of a strong pre-dated environmental message that Greenpeace are sure to appreciate. Is it worth seeing, as an epic, unusual and sometimes overwhelming spectacle? Definitely! Scholars of the scripture may not be as enthusiastic.

Shane A. Bassett

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