‘Noah’

STARRING: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman

GRADE: B-


Controversy sells, and Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of Noah and the flood is seething with it.

Much of the early controversy surrounded Aronofsky versus Paramount, since the widely respected visionary director of “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream” had never helmed a big-budget film.

Clearly, The Bible doesn’t offer over two hours worth of cinema when speaking about Noah, so Aronofsky and writer Ari Handel fill in a lot of blanks.

This is the first time we have seen the story of Noah on the big screen. Up until now, the technology really didn’t exist to do it justice. “Noah” looks and feels epic on a scale of “Lord of the Rings,” except the liberties taken here are likely to alienate the core Christian audience and confuse the rest, but remember folks, it’s just a film.

Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family are part of those who follow “The Creator.” They respect the land and follow the path of righteousness.

“The Men” of the world who choose not to follow The Creator are descendants of Cain; they make their own rules and live in sin.

Noah is given a vision that the earth and all its wickedness will be destroyed by an apocalyptic flood.

He is given the insight to build an enormous ark that will carry all living things. When The Men learn of this, they prepare to wage war against Noah who is being helped by Heaven’s fallen angels called The Watchers, made of stone and rubble.

Even inside the ark that is to withstand the floods, Noah’s faith will be challenged by his own family before they ever see land.

The first big shock of the film is the appearance and explanation of the fallen angels. It’s an interesting subtext that has clearly been expanded on for cinematic purposes, as are many other elements.

The character of Noah is certainly written here to be multidimensional; he isn’t the Noah featured in children’s cartoons, he is dark, determined and faces unbelievable choices based on his faith.

At some point in the film, those of us who read and follow the Bible must remind ourselves this is just one person’s vision or interpretation.

On the other hand, “Noah” is very likely to have people looking back to the text of The Bible to see what it actually says.

The production design of the film is quite remarkable, especially the detail of the costumes in the earlier scenes.

The muted pallets, blue jean-like dyed fabrics are stunning and resemble the destitute look of “The Road.”

Crowe and Connelly find themselves playing husband and wife 14 years after “A Beautiful Mind,” while Watson and Lerman from “The Perks of Being a Wall Flower” are now family.

The script isn’t all together sound and while so much happens before the flood occurs, even those who are familiar with the story should find great suspense that these storytellers have added.

I think this is the kind of spectacle that might touch some nerves, might entertain, but will have everyone who sees it talking, and in the end that should be the ultimate goal of the filmmaker.

Final thought: Aronofsky’s Noah adaptation will provide all sides much to discuss after the rainbow appears in the end.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. More reviews are available at texasartfilm.com.

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