Video: Paramount Pictures, Regency Films
These days, box office charts are littered with blockbuster book and comic book adaptations (does no one have any original ideas anymore?) but there is rarely anything influenced by the most important and best-selling book of them all: the Bible. This year, however, that’s all set to change. Darren Aronofsky continues his protagonist-driven repertoire following the critical successes of TheWrestler and Black Swan with his latest offering, Noah.
Naturally, any artistic production that uses a religious text as its source material is almost certain to be plagued by controversy. The story of Noah only occupies a mere 4 chapters in the Book of Genesis so a degree of creative expression was necessary to fill in the gaps in the original Biblical narrative. But the story itself remains largely unchanged. Noah (Russell Crowe) receives a vision from ‘The Creator’ – that’s God to you and I – of an impending flood that will wipe out the entire human race as punishment for their sins. Noah builds an ark for his family and two of every animal, and they survive the floods ‘to be fruitful and multiply.’
No real spoilers here unless Bible stories are unbeknownst to you. Having said that, no movie of 2014 about Noah is complete without Hollywood-friendly enhancements which come in the form of rock-monsters, the Watchers, and Emma Watson’s invented character Ila to be a love interest for Noah’s eldest son, Shem, played by Douglas Booth (because we all know you can’t replenish the earth with 3 sons). Ray Winstone also growls his way through his role as Tubal-cain, a kind of nemesis in the film, who supposedly leads the rest of mankind who hope to be saved.
Unlike Aronofsky’s previous 2 films, Noah did not have a timely release just before awards season. The film doesn’t really manage to rise to the challenge of making the narrative sound like something based on more than a few lines, dragging occasionally with its uninspiring dialogue and one-dimensional characters. I certainly wasn’t expecting to loathe the protagonist and ‘The Creator’ for most of the film, both portrayed as judgmental, distant and merciless up until the, barely redemptive, ending.
The most anticipated moment of the film, the flooding scene, is not nearly as dragged out and spectacular as the trailers made it out to be but ultimately the special effects were as good as they could’ve been. Despite that, the rustic, home-made approach to film-making was quite pleasant considering the narrative itself is rather bleak.
The realised blockbuster potential of the Noah story is something to be commended and this is definitely a watchable reimagining. While you might feel emotionally worn out by the end, at least we can take some solace in the fact that, in a parallel movie universe, we’re all descendants of the strong-jawed Douglas Booth and the exquisite Emma Watson. Amen to that.