© Paramount Pictures Germany GmbH

U.S.A. 2014

Opening 3 Apr 2014

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Writing credits: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Principal actors: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins

Question: Why classify the movie Noah as “Unclassifiable?”
Answer: Because it is: the cinematography deserves five stars which might give the reader the impression that it is a great movie, but the dialogue and content deserve none at all.

Q. Why so harsh?
A. The dialogue is excruciatingly bad, there isn’t a memorable, non-corny line spoken and no attempt has been made to make the audience feel that the characters are from the Old Testament. To all intents and purposes they are tree hugging, vegetarian, signed up members of the Green party.

Q. So what’s the story line?
A. It’s the twenty-first century version of the Old Testament story, Noah’s Ark, heavily influenced by all those Lord of the Rings type movies. It’s a story of a good man who wrestles with his conscience and is put through the wringer, so to speak. Basically it’s a morality tale with a lot of violence thrown in.

Q. What about the acting?
A. Why is it that actors with well-deserved reputations risk all by taking on movies like this? Noah is played by Russell Crowe as a tortured, unwielding patriarch who morphs into a sort of shipwrecked sailor figure by the end of the movie. Jennifer Connelly as his wife Naameh has only to play the standard role of a stand-by-your-man wife who will forgive all. Emma Watson plays Ila, the daughter-in-law, as a demented mother prepared to sacrifice her babies at Noah’s bidding. (When this is happening in the movie you find yourself wondering why his family aren’t plotting throw him overboard.) Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain makes no attempt to disguise his Cockney accent or to change the London gangster acting technique he is better suited for, perhaps only suited for. Anthony Hopkins, who most certainly should have known better, plays the part of Noah’s granddad, Methuselah, as if he were a refugee from a Hobbit movie or a wise old wizard from a Harry Potter one.

Q. So the cinematography is the movie’s only redeeming feature?
A. Darn right. Matthew Libatique is responsible for it, and every scene captivates. He gives us a superb portrayal of the violence of nature as the rain begins and the raw and depressing world which Adam and Eve’s fall from grace made when paradise was lost. The watery world he creates is truly bleak. It’s fascinating to watch all the creatures of the air and the earth come flying, slithering and gently plodding into the ark. (In case you’re wondering, Noah and Naameh stupefy them with smoke when they’re inside, in order to prevent them causing mayhem.) All this is seen through 3D glasses, you understand, which enhances the reality feeling of it all. The ark is as far removed from your childhood toy as it’s possible to get, and the watchers are amazing.

Q. Who are the watchers, I don’t remember any watchers in my Bible story?
A. Well, that’s where the modern, 2014 version of the story comes in. Watchers are enormous Transformer sort of creatures, they have lots of arms and are made of rocks. Fire burns in their heads and when Og decides to help Noah, flames flash in his eyes and come out of his mouth when he speaks. Believe me, Noah couldn’t have built that ark without Og (Kevin Durand) and the other watchers. They also help him fight off the baddies led by Tubal-cain, who storm the ark when it starts to rain.

Q. Do the costumes have an authentic, Old Testament feel?
A. They aren’t a bit like the stripey, tea towel coat that Charlton Heston wore in Exodus. In fact they are rather distracting. Noah, for example wears a hunter and gatherer type of costume at the beginning of the movie and changes into a medieval blacksmith’s outfit in the middle. Towards the end he’s wearing jeans, t-shirt and deer hunter jacket made out of a tweedy, homespun fabric. His hairstyles are equally distracting, changing from shaggy caveman to skinhead and then back to caveman again. His beard gets longer and more grey and grizzled, which helps to show the passage of time. Neemah wears Hollywood inspired Old Testament garments and manages to find some flowers for her hair when she’s on the ark. Ila and the boys just wear t-shirts and jeans made from that homespun looking material and they never comb their hair. Tubal-cain is dressed as a Roman centurian with an added touch of Viking marauder in his head gear and his warriors are similarly dressed.

Q. Which audience is Noah aimed at?
A. Goodness knows. Biblical scholars will be lost for words and groan at the failed attempt to breathe life into a fascinating story. The average viewer will ruminate at the time, effort and cost of bringing such nonsense to the screen, and it’s too violent for children.

Q. So all in all Noah isn’t to be recommended?
A. It depends. You may feel that superb visual cinematography outweighs dismal dialogue and your curiosity may get the better of you. Be prepared for backache and a numb bum owing to the length of the movie if you decide to brave it and spare a thought for all the ways that the estimated 125 to 160 million dollars which the movie cost could have been better spent. (Jenny Mather)

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