“Noah” Movie Review – Now on DVD and Blu-ray

Noah 1“Noah”

Noah is a retelling of the epic story of Noah’s Ark, which is the story of one man’s struggle to build a humungous ark in order to escape an impending flood sent by God that will wipe out all existence. It is then Noah’s responsibility to gather two of each species of animal and start anew. Unless you have been living under a rock your entire life, you probably already knew the basis of this biblical tale, but trust me, not even the most religious people have heard it told like this.

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Now I am not a religious person, so I do not know every little detail that is within this first story of the apocalypse, so I will try my best not to compare this adaptation to the actual bible, although I have heard that it is absolutely nothing like its source material. This is the story of Noah’s Ark updated for the 21st Century. It is no longer a mundane biblical passage, but a rollicking action set piece with its own unique style. What I found most interesting about Noah was its portrayal. While some may walk in expecting something religiously inspiring, this adaptation is not at all what a Sunday school class will be searching for. It’s gritty, exciting, violent, and, at times, gratuitous. I can’t possibly imagine this is how the actual story went down, but I can easily find praise within that aspect.

When the story begins, the earth is the exact definition of barren. The cinematography was spellbinding to say the least. The earth is essentially a big ball of rock at this point, so it may not surprise you that there are actual rock monsters living in this environment, and it’s all thanks to humanity. Who knew that people from that long ago could mess everything up even more than we have? So God is angry and he has decided to abolish our existence in order to begin again, but without the burden of humanity. I will say that Noah is a movie that comes out of the gate without much zest. It contains some rich visuals, but it’s slow for a pretty much the entire first act and doesn’t gain way until the second, and even then it isn’t until the third act that it actually develops to its fullest extent. There is a lot of character development within this first act, which is all for a good cause, but it could have been shown in a more entertaining manner, and it could have been edited quite a bit. This movie is long.

While that slow opening could have been updated a bit, I am mostly thankful for it because it definitely makes us understand these complex characters. The characters in Noah were one of the most interesting aspects for sure, which is something that I found very grand about this film. Most blockbusters throw visuals up above thoughtful characters on the priorities list, but Noah does the opposite by putting the characters first and using the visuals as a background, which is how all movies should be made. It shows this larger-than-life story on a much more human scale which ends up being extremely effective. This isn’t a story about God and how a man saves the innocent from total extermination, it’s about a man struggling to save the innocent while also trying to keep his family safe and, yes, sane.

As I said before, I have not read and do not follow the Bible very closely, so I have no clue as to whether or not a lot of the things in this movie are true to the story, but I can craft an idea just based on what’s common knowledge and how much I remember from my very few years in Sunday school as a child, and that knowledge tells me, and I’m not kidding, that giant rock monsters did not actually help Noah build this ark. Noah and his family cannot build this entire vessel on their own, of course, so Noah does gain some help from several fallen angels, which are also made of rock. I do remember something about angels, who were punished after failing to guide Adam and Eve out of temptation, helping Noah out, but I can’t recall them being rock creatures. I’m not saying that this choice is a bad thing; I think they’re awesome to be honest, but it also shows you just how far the filmmakers were going from the actual story, which is something that I commend.

I absolutely hate when filmmakers create a paint-by-numbers copy of what they are trying to adapt (Watchmen, The Great Gatsby). It feels so lazy to me. I want my adaptation to do a justice towards the source material, but I also want the filmmakers to have an original vision, and director Darren Aronofsky definitely had one. Aronofsky must have found something fascinating within Noah’s story and wanted to create something of it, but instead of succumbing to the pressure of religious accuracy, he wrote his own creative take on the events, which may be frustrating to some, but I think it’s quite honorable.

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Ever since I first saw the trailer for this film, I have had mixed feelings. I was excited due to its incredible goals and intriguing style, but I was also dreading it due to the critical reception of most biblical adaptations and how they seem to inspire the faithful, but do little to entertain the other viewer. I put all of my faith in Aronofsky and he, mostly, did not let me down. Noah may have possessed a slow first act and a slightly overlong running time, but thanks to some strong performances and Aronofsky’s gritty direction, it mostly lands instead of (forgive the pun) sinking in its own ambitions.

3 out of 5

Read more of Jacob’s reviews at his blog here.