The year of 2014 is shaping up for its fair share of biblical tales. The first blockbuster of these movies is “Noah,” based on the tale found in Genesis.
Based on, mind you. Darren Aronofsky has taken the, not quite outline of the flood tale, and filled it in with many a creative embellishment
We are introduced to the tale of Adam and Eve and their fall from the Garden through a tale being told to Noah by his father, as part of a rite of passage for descendants of Seth. The descendants of Cain interrupt this ritual in search of precious resources, resorting to violence.
In a jump in time, we now see Noah as a man, living with his family in a valley. When the Creator sends that fateful message, not by speaking to Noah, but through impressions and images, Noah is spurred to action and uproots his family. Instead of employing an actor to portray the Creator, Aronofsky’s decision did the material justice, by allowing the being to remain featureless and provide an interesting interpretation of the messages Noah received.
On his journey he encounters the Watchers, who are fallen angels trapped in rock bodies. These angels fell, wanting to help Adam and Eve establish themselves in the world. These Watchers helped man build cities, but eventually withdrew from the world after the evil of man grew too much. The addition of the Watchers undermines Noah’s mission, by providing him with earthen-bound divine help. The help takes away from the triumph of Noah when he and his family are chosen to be able to live through the floods.
Noah sets about building a massive ark, with the help of the Watchers. Eventually people come, questions his activities and following the animals as they make their way to the ark. Violence ensues between the camp of Man and Noah, as they fight to escape their judgment.
What is fairly interesting about “Noah” was the amount of liberties taken with the source material, considering how familiar the tale is to millions around the world. Many of these additions serve to flesh out the timeline around the building of the ark, as well as the populaces reaction to the news of impending doom.
One storyline casts Noah in a darker light, as the weight of responsibility bears on his sanity. Coupled with the danger Shem and Ila’s love story encounters from Noah, this may be where the liberties get a riskier in their reach.
The film takes on an epic scale as the ark is built and the floods come. There is a certain diminutive feeling that is invoked as you watch the world drown, with only a boat the hopes for the continuation of the planet.
All the actors are well cast for their parts. With most of the focus on Noah (Russell Crowe), the supporting actors provide strong enough performances to hold their own in the epic tale. Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone star in the film.
“Noah,” while a good effort from the studios to portray a familiar tale, bogs itself down in details that are added for the sake of filling out the tale. What could have been a straightforward portrayal of the floods in less than two hours is instead bloated to fill the requirements of Hollywood, that two and a half hours of needless additions are better than a solid story.
I’m giving “Noah” a B. It is an enjoyable reinvention of a story every child learns, but it tries too hard to make it fit in with the epics that don’t have a responsibility to stay faithful to their source material. “Noah” is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.