Motion picture studios have been making big movies based on the bible since the days of silent films. In fact, producer/director Cecil B. DeMille made “The Ten Commandments” twice, as a silent film in 1923 and again as a huge blockbuster in 1956. And those of us of a certain age remember the Technicolor spectacles, “The Robe”, “Samson and Delilah”, “David and Bathsheba”, as well as “King of Kings” in glorious Technirama.
The story of Noah’s Ark has been immortalized many times in film as well, from a 1928 silent film, to the 1966 movie, “The Bible: In the Beginning” directed by and starring John Houston as Noah, along with a truly dreadful 1999 TV mini-series starring Jon Voight as the builder of the Ark. Been there, done that.
So I wasn’t overly enthusiastic when I heard that a new big screen version of “Noah” was coming out in 2014, starring Academy Award® Winner, Russell Crowe. I found it hard to imagine why a filmmaker, known for movies like “Pi”, “The Fighter”, and “Black Swan” would want to take on the challenge of re-telling the Old Testament story of the man given the divine mission to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood.
I also forgot to consider that Darren Aronofsky isn’t just any filmmaker.
The re-imagining, as Aronofsky refers to it, is less of an adaptation of the Book of Genesis tale we all learned about in Sunday school, and more of a compelling story of one man’s test of faith. This Noah is an action hero, doggedly attempting to serve a vengeful God (whom he refers to as the “Creator”) he can neither see nor hear, even at the cost of his family.
Although the movie features solid performances from Jennifer Connelly as Naameh, Noah’s wife, Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman as sons, Shem and Ham, Emma Watson as Ila, and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, “Noah” is really a one-man-show, featuring one of Crowe’s strongest performances in years. It’s a performance that should net Crowe a 4th best actor Oscar nod.
The Bottom Line: “Noah” is a big film, and I recommend seeing it on a big screen. It’s playing on IMAX screens for one week only, and I highly recommend seeing it there if you can.
2hr. 19min. Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.