“I have an army at my back, and you stand alone and defy me?”
In some ways, I feel as this quote relates to not only me and my opinion on this movie, but the critics as well. Many people in my theater quite clearly voiced their dislike towards the film, even after the first thirty minutes. But, I will stand by my opinion no matter what everyone else thinks. Despite a slow first half and some painful clichés here and there, Noah is an ambitious blockbuster that defies all the rules of a big-budget disaster flick in favor of Darren Aronofsky’s trademark visuals and direction.
First off, I’d like to thank Paramount for giving this film great marketing (not sarcasm). Not only do the ads hide a lot of the film, but they only show you the first half of the movie. How many trailers do that today? Not many. So, even though you did this to hide the fact that your biblical film is in fact a fantasy “epic”, thank you Paramount for saving a lot of the footage for the actual movie. Because of this, I didn’t know where the film would end up going, which is a great surprise in this day and age.
Now, what the marketing DID show you was the first half of the film, which is essentially a mixture of elements from Mad Max and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Sadly, that description makes it sound better than it actually is. It moved along very slowly, despite the time in the film moving very fast during this section. But, what makes this first half not a complete hassle to sit through are The Watchers, which are these fallen angels that “The Creator” has damned to live on Earth as rock monsters. The visual effects on them are great, and they kind of gave off a stop-motion vibe whenever they moved which was pretty cool. It helps that they’re pretty badass as well.
The first half of the film is also the lesser of the two halves because of the character development. To be frank, we don’t know jack-shit about any of these characters in the first half, and we, the audience, have no one to really relate with or latch onto. The only character with any sort of development was Methuselah (played by Anthony Hopkins), but then again, he was on a quest to find berries for most of his screen time, so I guess that’s not saying much.
However, once the flood actually comes, the film picks up speed and becomes a relentless thrill-ride to the end. But, it’s not for the reason you think. The flood, while quite spectacular to see on the screen, isn’t this film’s greatest moment(s), but the scenes to follow. That’s because the film shifts from it’s “epic” feel to a more broken-down, psychological one. The film becomes very dark and brooding and starts to feel much more like a Darren Aronofsky film than it did in the first half. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Now onto the acting. All the focus seems to be on Russell Crowe, and I can see why. He gives a powerful and demanding performance, and while I’d be hesitant to call it his best work, it’s definitely one of his stronger efforts. However, the standout to me was Logan Lerman as Noah’s son, Ham. If you can ignore the goofy name, Lerman really finds his footing in the second half of the film and should be getting more recognition as an actor. First Perks of Being a Wallflower and now this, he’s shown that he is capable of great things. I hope more producers out in Hollywood see this.
The rest of the cast is serviceable. Jennifer Connelly is perfectly fine as Noah’s wife, but, like most of the cast, isn’t given much to work with until later in the film. Emma Watson has some pretty powerful scenes, but more often than not, she doesn’t make much of an impact. And for most of the time, I didn’t even notice Douglas Booth was there, as his acting was just so bland. But oh well, I guess.
Despite the fact that it sounds like I’m bashing the film, I actually liked it. It’s very ambitious to the point where I was surprised how they got away with what they did. This is easily one of, if not, the darkest PG-13 movies I’ve seen and it also features some of Aronofsky’s trademark visuals, a breath of fresh air in a project as big as this one.
Some will love it, many will hate it. And while I didn’t love it, I appreciate the hell out of it for what it tried to accomplish. It practically throws out all your usual blockbuster conventions out the window (despite some painfully clichéd moments here and there) and has the balls to push situations to the extreme, without going to far in the process. I think after the public announces their distaste for the film (which they will), Darren Aronofsky will never work on a big-budget film again. And even though I liked his attempt here, I think that’s for the best.
“I’m not alone.”