Review by-Jarrett Leahy
“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”-Roger Ebert
And no quote better fit my thoughts about famed director Darren Aronofsky’s latest effort. I strongly disliked Noah, and it could not end soon enough. Judging from the dead silence of the exiting crowd who watched it with me opening night, I have a feeling I’m not the only one who felt this way. Aronofsky obviously tried to put his own unique spin on one of the most well known biblical stories, but his bizarre deviations from the known interpretations turned what was already a fantastical type tale into one that was outlandishly absurd.
Hollywood has long been known for taking artistic license, modifying original material to help better dramatize certain aspects of a story. But the inclusion of giant rock monsters with flaming yellow eyes into the Noah story is where I draw the line. While Anthony Hopkins character Methuselah is a real person referenced in the bible, the metaphysical storyline written for him was also an obvious creation of Aronofsky’s unusual imagination. Emma Watson’s character and storyline appear to be made up as well, and turning Tubal-Cain, a gifted metalsmith that some have credited as being one of the world’s first chemists, into the ultimate embodiment of pure evil bordered on nonsensical. Issues also arose with some of the visuals of the film. For a movie that relies so heavily on CGI, I was confounded by scenes that truly looked second rate. One of the many glaring examples was an aerial shot where the camera follows two doves flying that left me underwhelmed to say the least.
If any performance deserves some praise, it is Russell Crowe as Noah. Asked to portray a man whose single minded belief is straining both his family and his sanity, Crowe does it competently. However, I found myself surprisingly disappointed in Academy award winner Jennifer Connelly’s performance of Noah’s wife, Naameh. For most of the film she felt lifeless and lackluster, so by the time her emotional climax scene finally arrives, I’ve all but tuned her out. The actors cast to play the sons were also a miscalculation. Douglas Booth’s portrayal of Noah’s oldest son Shem was more wooden than the film’s famed boat, and as much as it pains me to say because I loved him in The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Logan Lerman was completely miscast as the middle son Ham.
All I can do is share my honest reactions about a movie, so trying to sugarcoat my feelings for the film would be disingenuous. However, one of the fine lines movie reviewers must tiptoe is writing and sharing negative reviews without being too venomous or snarky. It truly took me all night venting the many frustrations I had with the film to my lovely editor Michelle to keep from using the words hate and awful in this review. In a recent interview for The New Yorker, Aronofsky is quoted as saying Noah is “the least Biblical Biblical film ever made.” Well it certainly shows. For reasons only he knows, Aronofsky attempted to turn Noah into some sort of imaginative modern epic. In the end, the only thing epic about Noah is that it’s an epic disappointment.-JL