The best description, that I’ve been hearing for months now, regarding Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”, is that it’s “loosely” based on the story of Noah’s Ark. What! You mean they aren’t following the loony tunes biblical children’s story, of a man collecting two of every animal on the earth and sticking them on a big wooden boat while a massive flood drowns the rest of the planet—to the letter? Blasphemy! I mean, it’s a ridiculous legend(that sadly, I’m certain quite a few people probably still regard as fact), that’s open to all forms of adaptation—that essentially are enslaved to the same basic plot line. Noah loads the ark, everyone not aboard bites the dust, and the big boat eventually comes to rest near the top of a big mountain(Mt. Ararat, historically). The end. Which, honestly, is my chief issue with the latest incarnation of this Old Testament favorite. There’s simply not much new ground to cover here. And despite a very strong performance from Russell Crowe as the title character, and another of those dutiful wife/girlfriend roles, for the talented and gorgeous Jennifer Connelly, there’s not much to get enthusiastic about here. And that’s a shame because Darren Aronofsky is such a gifted director, and every single one of his five previous films is far superior to this. I don’t even consider it arguable.
So, what we get is a 137 minute arty take on the story of the great soaking. Noah(Mr. Crowe)sweats and glowers and struggles with his mission, while Naameh(Ms. Connelly)gives him endless support, and sons Shem(Douglas Booth), Ham(Logan Lerman), and(to a lesser degree)Japeth(youngster Leo McHugh Carroll)harbor mixed feelings about the whole endeavor, while still helping their father complete his massive task. There are a lot of CGI animals slithering, flying and crawling onto the big ship, and an apparently real Anthony Hopkins(who else?)as wise, ancient Methuselah living in a cave atop some hill. Emma Watson is along as the “barren” Ila, and Ray Winstone embodies our villain, Tubal-cain. Oh, there are some giant rock monsters(fallen angels, or something or other)too, and a very pro-environment, animal-equality theme peppered throughout. PETA must adore this movie. There’s also a number of typical Aronofsky devices and nuances that were used to much more impressive effect in earlier notches on his resume. I bet it would’ve been something to experience this on a giant, IMAX screen in 3D. But it’s still just a mildly diverting biblical epic, from the creator of “Black Swan”, “The Wrestler” and “Requiem for a Dream”. And I’ll even guarantee, that whatever Mr. Aronofsky decides to do next, it’ll be far more interesting than this oft-interpreted tale.