Film Review – Noah (2014): Jordan’s Take

Noah's family... minus a sulking Ham

Noah’s family… minus a sulking Ham

Noah

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman

Review by Jordan, to see Eddie’s take click here

When the director of such vivid, mind-warping treasures as The Fountain and Black Swan, and such powerful adult works as Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler decides to tackle a chapter in Genesis of a good man Noah and his 3 sons building an Ark to escape an impending flood sent to wipe out man and his wickedness it’s reasonable to expect controversy and a liberal take on the material.

What I didn’t expect was that the invented scenarios would be so cliched and uninspired (except The Watchers, fallen Angels made of boulders), threatening to, nay-basically succeeding in, overshadowing everything the movie does right… which isn’t much.

What Noah presents well is imagery concerning creation and Adam’s downfall; presenting The Garden of Eden, followed by Cain’s murder of Abel and our learned desire to murder each-other in an interesting fashion, some moments quite reminiscent of the opening of Terrence Malick’s sublime Tree of Life; what it struggles with is the characters of Noah and his sons (Connelly is fine as his wife Naameh), whose motivations require a deviation from the scriptures and are so awkward its often hard to watch. Noah (Crowe), when speaking of his sons states at a particularly pivotal moment before the rain pours down that Shem is lustful and Ham is covetous, and that as a family they are no better than the hordes of Cain’s descendants fighting to be aboard the ark, and from this moment on we are subjected to an tale of revenge and betrayal as dark as a lunar eclipse featuring the extinction of 2 species because a stowaway is hungry and potential baby murdering. A braver film-maker would have denied taking the brooding, thematic approach and given us the hope of a rainbow.

This entire second half left me irritated and fidgety, saddened in the knowledge that the ending could in no way redeem all of this bad work; and I was right.

If the plan was always to make this exact picture, then I don’t see why it was even made. As an account it doesn’t work, as a drama it doesn’t work nor does it offer anything to the arthouse, thriller or blockbuster crowds. It is an often stale, always underwhelming example of hype overshadowing quality that will eventually sink into obscurity faster than you can say “Did you bring me any berries?”

Oh, the berries… at least you can’t say there was no comic relief.

1.5 scaled dogs out of 5

38 responses to “Film Review – Noah (2014): Jordan’s Take

  1. Thanks for this review, They are advertising this movie quite a a lot in Finland right now (I think the premiere is next week) and I was somewhat interested in seeing Aronofsky’s take on a piece of ancient apocalyptic myth, but now that you have told what I suspected might be true I probably save my money and wait this to be shown on TV, which wille ventually happen in the future.

  2. Mostly agree with you though I couldn’t bring myself to rate it as low as you did because it still succeeded in a few areas. I couldn’t believe what I was watching at times. It is hard to believe that this is the same director as the other films you mentioned. I probably would have skipped the film entirely if the watchers were in the trailer. For that I am quite annoyed at the marketing department. It would have totally bombed even worse if it was obvious how crazy off-the-wall this movie would go.

    • Yeah I just don’t understand why this is “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems that critics are just becoming too afraid to call a spud a spud.
      Jordan

  3. The baby murdering part section that you hated was probably my favourite section of the movie.

    I loved the stop-motion look of the rock giants and that whole genesis creation sequence was amazing, and not a surprise, when you remember that Aronofsky made The Fountain.

    Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m really looking forward to an extended cut where we actually see Emma Watson “trying to be pregnant”, if you know what I’m saying lol 🙂

    • Yeah I did enjoy the creation sequence too, and scenes such as the 2 doves flying across the land. I’m glad you enjoyed the film more than I did!
      Ha, did not know that was coming!
      Jordan

    • Tuan –
      I know what you mean! It would be pretty interesting to see more of emma watson pregnant to see how convincing her acting would be.

      I imagine it wouldn’t be an easy thing to act especially since she never had kids in real life and would be well out of her comfort zone.

      Maybe a future role will give us some insight on this!

    • Ah that’s an interesting fact, it does show in the end product actually.
      Yeah Emma really didn’t have much of a role, and something tells me Crowe won’t look back at this as one of his finest moments.
      Thanks, Jordan

  4. Baby murdering…? uurgh.. haven’t watched this, but I am disgusted of movies that contain such brutality. I knew that Aronofsky had a sick taste. I watched Requiem for a Dream only once, but I think I will never watch it again, although it belongs to the best movies I have seen. Black Swan had some disgusting scenes as well, but it was more bearable. Nevertheless, I think I will watch Noah anyway 🙂

    • Well… whether or not it *actually* contains baby murdering would involve giving away some of the plot, so better not do that, but if you’re also disgusted by poor movies then I’d still say avoid this one.
      I agree with your thoughts on Requiem and Black Swan too; would be keen to hear your thoughts when you see this!
      Jordan

  5. Good review Jordan. Yeah, this one’s splitting a lot of people up, as it should. It’s not your typical movie we get to see every so often, from a not-so typical director. Somehow, the results worked well for me, although I can totally see why some people dislike the stinkin’ guts out of it.

  6. As a fan of fantasy films I actually enjoyed this.

    A lot of negativity from jordan on this, but I enjoyed some of the liberties taken and viewed as a movie and not as a Bible story I found it entertaining.

    Also thought russell gave a solid performance.
    The child murdering thing came out of left field but the conviction and morale dilemmas were clever.

    Enjoy it for what it is and you’ll find a silly but entertaining movie with plenty to make fun of, a bit of light hearted fun all while mixed with some outstanding visuals.

  7. Excellent summary, I whole-heartedly agree. I noted in my review that even if we had no biblical story to compare with, it is still an astounding example of self-contradiction and lackluster performances. Only performance I really liked was Emma Watson. She handled her parts wonderfully, and she was given a lot to do. Crowe did alright, but I really didn’t like Connelly. At one point when she’s begging Noah it just feels fake, like she couldn’t reach that emotion but was still pushing for it to the point of awkwardness.

    • Cheers Gene, glad you agree. Its interesting that our thoughts on Connelly and Watson are pretty much reversed ha, I liked Connelly, though I could be biased there as I’ve grown to really like her as an actress and don’t typically look for fault in her performances.
      A strange take on the story indeed though.
      Jordan

  8. We can’t just have a religious epic anymore with the color and vividness of The Ten Commandments, no we have to have dismal grey violence straight out of 300 or something. If this movie could get any more grey and poorly executed, it’d be a miracle. Maybe it needs a parting of the Red Sea.

  9. On why Aronofsky would work on this film; maybe he wanted to work on something totally different; something that would challenge himself as a director and his audience, perhaps bringing him into the mainstream more so than a film such as Black Swan.

    But yeah. It never seemed like this film would be anything other than an odd mixture of different positives and negatives, making a film that kind of never hits its stride.

    Also, I wouldn’t mind watching the film – I have never seen anything like it in the cinema before.

    • Yeah despite my low score and negative comments, its still a movie I definitely recommend seeing in order to make up your own mind. I’d be very surprised if anyone has this in their top 10 of the year by December though.
      Jordan

  10. The Watchers being made of rocks is really cool unless you realize that that doesn’t remotely resemble what Watchers are actually supposed to be. I’m of the opinion that there’s no point in including something that unfamiliar unless you do it right.

  11. Pingback: Film Review – Noah (2014): Eddie’s Take | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

    • Hi Joan. It’s one I’m very much liking reading other people thoughts on, especially if they’re different to my own! Very much a divisive film to say the least.
      Jordan

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