Noah (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Throughout his career Russell Crowe has done his most powerful work in period pieces, from Gladiator to Robin Hood, Cinderella Man and now, Noah. His unconventional handsome-ness and melancholy demeanor are prefect fits for these characters that existed in eras long ago. Except for possibly Maximus, no role until now has allowed Crowe to tap so deeply into that steel reservoir of determination. Noah is an ambitious, exciting and beautifully mounted production that contains some truly spectacular images, and the first ‘wow’ at the movies this year.

Part disaster flick, religious epic, and blockbuster spectacle Noah is sure to entertain, probably enlighten, and possibly upset audiences worldwide, who will no doubt flock to the picture. The film opens in grand fashion with Noah as a young boy fleeing the marauding wrath of king Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), just as he was to be given a special gift from his father. Cain murders the boy’s father and claims the gift for himself.

The story then jumps many years ahead and presents us with an adult version of Noah (Crowe). His life is abruptly altered with the vision of a monstrous flood, that comes to him while in a dream-state. This compels the man to take his family to the mountain of Methuselah. On the voyage the caravan adopts an orphaned girl lla (Emma Watson), the only survivor of a vicious slaughter by Cain’s army.

On the run from these barbarians, Noah and his troupe are forced to enter the dark regions where the Watchers are rumored to live. The mysterious people are convinced of Noah’s truthfulness when he uses a seed from the Garden of Eden to sprout an entire forest instantly. This provides an opportunity for one of the film’s many dazzling special effects sequences.

Noah uses the wood from the recently grown trees to create an Ark that will be humanity’s last vestige of hope from the oncoming apocalypse. The boarding of the animals, put to sleep by special burning sage and the ensuing flood are strangely original and inspiring at the same time.

Like all of Darren Aronofsky’s work, Noah is laced with symbolism and meaning, on both the surface and subconscious levels. This is truly a biblical extravaganza for today’s audiences, social and environmental concerns are highlighted, but the though-provoking message is accompanied by lush photography, an outstanding cast, some brilliant dramatic moments, and those marvelous effects. Noah is a knockout.

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly,Emma Watson

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