- Released Internationally on 26/03/14
- Released in Malta by KRS on 02/04/14
3-word review: It’s quite epic.
I am fully aware of how ridiculous it sounds to grumble about ‘accuracy’ when discussing a story like that of Noah and his all-important ark. We’ve all heard the story in some version or another, and it sounds great, whilst conjuring up lots of fascinating imagery and ideas. Which is probably what drew visionary filmmaker Darren Aronovsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) to the story. But inevitably, if you try to tell the story in a realistic, human manner, massive plot holes start to stare you in the face. So some liberties needed to be taken.
I have no objection to most of this - it’s just a story after all, and Aronovsky has done a remarkable job of covering most of the plot problems. But the biggest element he introduced, and one which serves an important purpose that is evident when you see the film, is that of the ‘Watchers’, or fallen angels who help Noah in his massive task. The marketing material for the film has wisely left them out of all images, trailers and adverts, but when they finally appear they jar with the biblical setting quite considerably, at least to my eyes. I won’t spoil any surprises, but suffice to say that they kept reminding me of an organic version of the sizeable characters seen in a recent sci-fi film franchise, which was quite a distraction. They do apparently have some vague origin from some non-canon religious texts, but that doesn’t help much when you’re sitting in a darkened cinema wondering where the hell (or heaven) they came from.
But anyway, Watchers aside, the film is quite spectacular and emotional. The driving force behind the film is the titular character’s internal struggle with the instructions he has received in a dream. Should he save the animals and start the human race afresh, or are humans so evil that the world would be better off without them altogether? This interesting dilemma leads to many of the film’s best moments, as Noah (Russell Crowe) clashes with his family (especially Jennifer Connelly as his wife and Emily Watson as his son’s partner) over what God’s intentions are. The fine line between religious fundamentalism and having some basic common sense and love towards your fellow humans is all too evident here, and this of course is a topic still highly relevant today.
A Joy to Behold
Inaccuracies and human drama aside, the film also shines as pure spectacle. No film about Noah’s Ark can hope to be respected if it doesn’t display the scale of the flood with conviction, and this film not only manages that, but precedes the flood with an assault on the ark by desperate humans that is reminiscent of the Helm’s Deep sequence in The Two Towers, and adds immensely to the urgency and significance of what is unfolding. The screams of those who don’t make it into the ark are not something you will be forgetting in a hurry. There’s also a creation montage later in the film that is worth the price of admission on it’s own.
This is a wonderful film about second chances and starting over, on many levels. Irrespective of whether you are religious or not, it’s worth watching because of the great story at it’s core, and the impressive filmmaking that is used to tell it. It’s a family drama, it’s an apocalyptic road trip, it’s a morality tale about human evil, it’s the mother of all disaster movies, and it’s definitely the most 'big screen-worthy' film of 2014 so far.