Director: Darren Aronofsky
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
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Suspension of disbelief is defined as the willingness of the reader/viewer to overlook details in order to buy into the premise being presented to them. We all have gone into movies, especially those grounded in reality, where this has often come into play. On many occasions it may very well have improved the overall enjoyment of the film. If the story is good enough and the characters engaging enough one may be willing to overlook certain story elements that seem too fantastical or bizarre. Suspension of disbelief comes into play when seeing Darren Aronofsky’s latest film Noah and, considering the text it is based upon, one may really need to push it to the limit.
Noah is having haunting visions that he can’t explain but believes they are a message from the Creator. He begins to see things that simply can’t be possible such as a rain drop resulting in a flower that becomes full grown before his very eyes. In time he discovers the meaning behind the visions and learns that he has been given a mission; a mission that will test his resolve but save the world in the process. He is to build an ark to keep safe the animals of the world because the Creator is going to wipe the world clean of all sin and immorality with a great flood.
Most people in the world have some familiarity with the legendary Old Testament tale. Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel provide the basic threads of the oft-told tale like the message, the building of the ark, the animals arriving two-by-two, the great flood and the arrival on a new world. However, instead of going for a more realistic and grounded approach to the story he takes it further into the fantastical. Mythical creatures, supernatural powers, science-defying events are just some of the sensational elements that make this version of Noah a pure fantasy. It’s an approach that certainly caught this viewer off guard as a more grounded adventure was anticipated. The fantasy elements continued to linger even when they were well past that it manage to take me out of the movie. How people interpret the Bible is their business, there’s no wrong way to take it, and it will no doubt have undue influence on how one assimilates Aronofsky’s take on the story and whether or not they’ll enjoy it.
The visual effects are okay but nothing that hasn’t graced the silver screen. One cannot help but be reminded of 2012 when the flood hits. The arrival of the animals looks blatantly CG but despite a grand effort to suspend disbelief it still looked cartoonish. Now the visions and animated sequences are quite striking. The animated sequences that recount the story of creation seem a bit whimsical at first but the message and story being told is very bold and polarizing. In particular if one were to have seen the first few episodes of the new Cosmos you may find appreciation in the morphing look at our origins. Another rousing piece chronicles the history of violence that transcends time and space. Unfortunately, the rest of the effects sequences are pretty standard fare and don’t live up to the animated scenes or visions.
Russell Crowe stars as Noah and he is very good in the role. He’s not the stereotypical looking Noah, ie long beard, flowing robes, sandals, a staff, etc. As the film progresses you see a man who is disturbed by the knowledge of what is to come and even worse what his ultimate purpose is. In this version of the tale he is man who was chosen because he will do what he must to get things done not because he wants to save the world. Jennifer Connelly is Naameh, Noah’s wife. She does a great job of portraying Noah’s rock. She is particularly strong when she stands up to him to do what is just as opposed to what is required of him. Anthony Hopkins appears as Methuselah who in this tale is something of a mystic. Ray Winstone is Tubal-cain, the villain of the piece who wants passage on the ark. The film also stars Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Leo McHugh Carroll as Noah’s children.
Aronofsky’s version of the story is intriguing at best but because it presents a fantasy based on what some already consider fantasy it seems rather redundant and often times seems a bit drab during its two and a half hour running time. He’s a visionary story teller but this film doesn’t achieve the heights of his previous efforts, The Fountain in particular. Noah is a film that you’ll either like or will just be ambivalent towards. While it may fulfill as a spectacle of biblical proportions ultimately judged as a film it’s purely middle of the road and doesn’t live up to its heavenly inspirations.