Apr 2, 2014

Noah is awash in over-the-top drama but still entertaining for this time of dead-zone movie year.


Grade: C+

Director: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)

Screenplay: Aronofsky, Ari Handel (The Story)

Cast: Russell Crowe (Gladiator), Jennifer Connely (A Beautiful Mind)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 138 min.

by John DeSando

“He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you can understand.”  Methuselah to Noah

You think God’s 40 days and nights of flood in Genesis was long; Darren Aronofsky’s personal vision of that global catastrophe feels at least that long in his film, Noah. Here’s a soap opera of Biblical proportions where the humans’ mating trumps even the legendary animal duos. Noah, who may not understand everything the Divine says, stays so on task with a devotion to the mandate that he can optimistically see the catastrophe as “the beginning! The beginning of everything!”

Noah (Russell Crowe, in top operatic form) struggles not with the rain as much as making sure he does the complete program for the Lord, especially the annihilation of the human race for its sins—even Noah’s lineage. That little task lends Noah and his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connely), the opportunity to shout and howl, certainly an innovation since theater at that time would have been in its infancy.

The rock monsters, relics of  Cain’s guardian angels or whatever, may be an Aronofsky flourish, a touch Jerry Bruckheimer should envy. Their awkward gait and limited range for ark defense have a touch of the imperfect, a staple of the usual sci-fi rude mechanicals. The special effects for this $130 million epic are effective and not as distracting as in the usual summer spectacle.

But Noah can’t do the Lord’s entire program, for a very bad scion of Cain slips past them aboard the decidedly homely ark (Oh, how I longed for the pitched roof over the cabin!) to cause Noah further heartburn for this burdensome task.

The Clint-Mansell music (an Aronofsky regular) with its multilayered Dolby Atmos effects leaves no emotional hint unheard and should be pleasant to those stimulated by orchestral big sounds and New Age cuteness. At this dead-zone time of year for movies,  this film’s fun but will be forgotten at Oscar time—unless we have a very rainy fall.

“Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” The Bible

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at