Whether you’re religious or not, you have to admit that the story of Noah is an interesting one. God plans to wipe out everything on the planet with a flood, but not before telling our boy Noah to build an ark and to store a male and a female version of all animals to repopulate the new world. That story can easily lend itself to a big budget epic. Put Darren Aronofsky at the helm and give him $125 million and you get Noah, a visually stunning and incredibly well acted drama that stumbles a bit in the screenplay department.
There’s not much story in Noah. God tells Noah to build an ark, he builds an ark, and then comes the flood. That’s about 75% of the story in this movie so I can imagine the difficulty of adapting that into a two hour movie. For the most part, screenwriters Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel do a fine job. There’s some great dialogue in the movie to keep the audience’s attention and the visuals gave the movie some necessary eye candy (more on that in a bit). Unfortunately, the movie does stumble a bit in terms of explanation.
God’s commands to Noah are a little questionable. You just have to admit it. I understand what they were going for but it just wasn’t well executed in the movie. When critiquing a movie’s story, you can’t just say “well God said so” and be fine with anything that happens. Some explanation is needed, whether it’s some lines of dialogue or one of the film’s many cool visual sequences. You can’t have huge story moments “just because”, you need something to back it up.
While that’s the major complaint I have with the movie (and some people might completely disagree with me), there are more poorly realized moments here. Some characters were never given the development they deserved. I like Noah as a character but the movie could’ve spent more time seeing what Noah was like before his communication with God. It would make the development of his character more impactful than it already was. Anthony Hopkins’ character came off a little goofy at times which you can tell wasn’t the intention. On top of some of the more ridiculous parts of the movie (*cough* rock people *cough*), and you have quite a few things that keep Noah away from greatness.
What is great though are the performances. Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Anthony Hopkins all do a great job in the film but it’s Russell Crowe as Noah who absolutely kills it. He does a fantastic job in the movie, delivering top notch emotion in every scene. An atheist will find these performances believable.
A story like this needs great visual effects, and that’s thankfully what we get. While the beginning of the flood was cool to see, it’s surprisingly not the standout when it comes to the visuals. They’re hard to describe, but the movie goes to these scenes where you just see something change over time and they are so cool to look at. You might get a seizure with the quick cuts of these scenes, but you won’t be any less impressed.
Finally, I saw the movie in IMAX and, just like Skyfall, the movie took up the whole screen instead of being letterboxed. On top of that, the sound in this movie is fantastic and the IMAX speakers work with the film wonderfully. If you do see the movie in theaters, try to go IMAX.
Aside from screenplay issues, Noah is an enjoyable and well acted drama with great visuals to boot. Whether it’s worth the ticket price for a story that you probably already know is up to you. For my money, I think a rental or a matinee is suitable.