By Jeffrey Robinowitz, Staff Writer ||
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.” (Actual Paramount Disclaimer)
Along this line of thought, this article is a review of the 2014 film Noah and only the film. Any and all comments about the film are completely unrelated to any other movies, books, TV shows, etc.
The first film I reviewed for this paper was 2013’s Prisoners and in three ways Noah is just like it. (1) It stars an alumnus of 2012’s Les Misérables who (2) goes from one film about crying to another film about crying that (3) benefits tremendously from a misleading trailer. My greatest fear coming into Noah was how to make an extremely familiar and short story into a gripping and exciting two-hour film. Thankfully, writer/director/producer Darren Aronofsky once again proves that he is among the best contemporary filmmakers by crafting a telling of the classic tale in a way that is both incredibly entertaining and very approachable.
As I mentioned, the trailer for Noah is not an accurate representation of the whole film, and that’s a good thing. The trailer would have you believe that the entire film focuses solely on the building of the ark and the flood. However, what isn’t shown in the trailer are the events that happen before (Noah’s struggle to understand his visions) and after (Noah’s struggle with the end of mankind). Each of these three sections are full of interesting set pieces and are expertly divided by Aronofsky trademark time-lapse sequences composed of quick edits and split-second images.
Another one of the film’s awesome features that was left out of the trailer is the Watchers. Such a decision was wise both because showing them beforehand would steal the enjoyment from the audience and because their depiction is like to cause greater controversy for the film (so better to show them once the offended parties are in the theater and you’ve got their money). Either way, these lumber stone giants, produced in a way familiar to old stop motion Claymation, are fascinating to watch and successfully function as an element of spectacle and story. Their origin and role in the story is explained quickly and without excess and once the flood comes, their presence in the film’s large scale fight scene strikes resemblance to the Ents in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, in all the right ways.
And when the film does hit some of its emotional highpoints, they are absolutely astounding. I won’t spoil which scenes are the most intense, but suffice to say, they showcase both inhumanity of the sinners destroyed by the flood and the inhumanity the flood forces upon Noah.
Ultimately, the best thing I can say about Noah is that it’s unexpectedly good and unexpectedly universal. For a film that could have gone so wrong in so many directions, it successfully avoids numerous pitfalls. It’s got action, drama, and even a little comedy. It’s fun, exciting, and well made.
As far as the film goes as an instrument of life changing wonder, it probably won’t succeed. If you’re a devout churchgoer, Noah won’t make you giddy over its painstakingly accurate depiction of biblical events. If you’re a nonobservant everyman like me, Noah will not make you run out and join the church choir. However, the sheer range of themes it explores, from sin and temptation to environmentalism and evolution, guarantees that while the may forever be shrouded in controversy, it will never be condemned as unambitious.
First-year Jeffrey Robinowitz is a staff writer. His email is email@example.com.