Bi­b­li­cal jour­ney is fas­ci­nat­ing yet flawed

Noah (12) ★★★

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -

THE STORY of Noah and his three sons un­folds across six chap­ters of the book of Gen­e­sis. Di­rec­tor Dar­ren Aronof­sky and co-writer Ari Han­del ex­pand this les­son into a sprawl­ing nar­ra­tive about one man's tire­less quest to save in­no­cent an­i­mals from the apoca­lypse.

This Noah is both a para­ble about self-sac­ri­fice and a bom­bas­tic spec­ta­cle re­plete with com­puter-gen­er­ated bat­tle scenes that wouldn't look out of place in Peter Jack­son's Mid­dle Earth. Our Lord Of The Rings, if you will, al­though the script never di­rectly ref­er­ences God.

The Nephilim, in­ter­preted here as fallen an­gels, are re-imag­ined as gar­gan­tuan stone crea­tures not too far re­moved from the lov­able Rock Biters in The Nev­erend­ing Story, who aid Noah's epic con­struc­tion.

‘In the be­gin­ning there was noth­ing,’ booms an open­ing voiceover, con­dens­ing the fall of Adam And Eve and blood spilt be­tween Cain and Abel into a mo­saic of haunt­ing im­ages. While the de­scen­dants of Cain spread greed and wicked­ness, the de­scen­dants of Seth - Cain's sur­viv­ing brother - work the land, tak­ing only what they need.

The last of this right­eous blood­line, Noah (Rus­sell Crowe), lives with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Con­nelly) and sons Shem (Dou­glas Booth), Ham (Lo­gan Ler­man) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Car­roll). One night, Noah ex­pe­ri­ences a vi­sion of a dev­as­tat­ing flood.

A visit to the moun­tain­ous lair of Noah's grand­fa­ther Methuse­lah (Anthony Hop­kins) con­firms the dire pre­dic­tion and Noah ac­cepts his task to build an ark ca­pa­ble of tem­po­rar­ily hous­ing one pair of ‘all that creeps, all that crawls, all that slith­ers’. He is aided by the three boys, adopted daugh­ter Ila (Emma Wat­son) and an army of rock-en­crusted fallen an­gels. Tubal-cain (Ray Win­stone), a bad ap­ple from the other branch of the fam­ily tree, stum­bles upon the ark and threat­ens to storm the ves­sel to es­cape the Cre­ator's wrath.

Noah is fas­ci­nat­ing yet flawed. Qui­eter, thought­ful sec­tions of the film, when the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter wres­tles with his des­tiny, beg provoca­tive ques­tions about de­vo­tion to a higher power in­clud­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary scene of at­tempted in­fan­ti­cide.

Crowe de­liv­ers a com­pelling cen­tral per­for­mance as a hum­ble man, who ac­cepts his own frail­ties. ‘We will work, com­plete the task - and then we will die, like ev­ery­one else,’ he for­lornly in­structs his fam­ily.

Re­gret­tably, Aronof­sky also has to re­coup a hefty budget so he punc­tu­ates his char­ac­ters' emo­tional roller­coaster with bom­bas­tic ac­tion se­quences that are as soul­less as they are spec­tac­u­lar.

When the piv­otal del­uge fi­nally comes, it's a tour-de-force of vis­ual ef­fects and swoop­ing cam­er­a­work that is over in a mat­ter of min­utes.

Time and tide wait for no man, not even Rus­sell Crowe.

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