Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah (2014)- Movie Review by Sean Wu

I'm going to be honest, I was really tempted to walk out of this movie around the forty minute mark. I thought, has Darren Aronofsky gone sentimental? At that point, the film was a string of scenes, nothing inherently complete.

Noah is not a perfect movie by any means, but when the ark hits the water, sh*t hits the fan in the best way possible. It's thrilling to see Russell Crowe command the screen, delivering power not seen since 2000's Gladiator. And with the film being PG-13, it's amazing how gore, guts, and overall grim atmosphere Aronofsky can shove in two-and-a-quarter hours.

Do you read the Bible? Are you religious? Both questions are irrelevant, because you must surely know the story of Noah's ark and the great flood. Writers Aronofsky and Ari Handel appear to have been very thorough when writing the film, digging through the Old Testament like ark-eologists (haha). Their creativity is superb, but when they try their hands at poetry, it falters. It tries hard to be like John Ridley's script for 12 Years a Slave, but comes off like Terrence Malick, without the improvised feelings.

Outside of Crowe, the cast is solid. Jennifer Conolly returns as Russell Crowe's devoted wife, a la A Beautiful Mind, and she gets a very strong scene of her own (you'll know it when you see it, which you should,). Emma Watson is really good, believe it or not, holding her own against the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe. Speaking of Anthony Hopkins, his character was poorly developed. He's the film's main source of comedic relief, and his mystic powers as the legendary Methusulah can only be revealed through internet articles about the movie. Ray Winstone is a good villain in the movie, he has motives and explains his character in a way the audience might agree with his ideals.

What makes Winstone's Tubal-cain so agreeable is that Aronofsky really develops the idea of internal conflict in Noah, the biproduct of burdening one with the task of saving animals and killing people. Noah believes that humanity should no longer continue after the Great Flood, and is convincing in his unjust belief. Tubal-cain, the animal of a man that he is, believes in the ethics of saving humanity, also convincing. I thought I was going into a disaster movie, but I instead I needed my thinking cap, and it made the movie so much better.

However, I am not singing my praises. There are characters in the beginning that are similar to the mechs in Pacific Rim, assuming they could talk. It's totally silly, even if it is one's artistic interpretation of the Bible, it doesn't work on-screen at all. It's unnecessarily silly, as if Aronofsky decided to make the first forty minutes in Middle-Earth instead.

As a whole, Noah ain't the masterpiece that has been decades in the making, but it is a good movie that works as both a blockbuster and moral drama. I liked it.

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