31 July 2014 | TheLittleSongbird
A very ambitious effort from Darren Aronofsky but also an uneven one
Judging from the hate Noah has gotten on here I was expecting very little. Actually Noah was nowhere near as bad as heard, and while very flawed and by far the worst film of Darren Aronofsky(with his others ranging from very good to outstanding) it did have some impressive things. On the most part the film is brilliant visually, the barren apocalyptic landscapes and later more colourful ones were really striking and the cinematography has a sweeping yet somewhat surrealistic effect. The opening and creation sequences were beautifully done with the latter quite harrowing without being too heavy-handed, and the flood scene was intense and jaw-dropping in spectacle. Noah's dreams had a real creepiness too. Clint Mansell's music score swells thrillingly and has an epic sweep, enhancing crucial scenes and not drowning stuff out. The sound is thrilling in its authenticity too. There are some good performances, the best of which coming from Russell Crowe, who plays with real steel and a powerful charisma. Jennifer Connelly is a sympathetic and touching wife and mother figure, and has a scene in the last act that really does hit home and is not over-the-top. Some have disliked Emma Watson's performance but for me she brought genuine heart to a role that was more of a plot-device up until the last act, at that point she becomes the character you relate to the most. Anthony Hopkins does not have much to do but he is gleefully enjoyable in his role of Methusalah.
Noah did personally fall very short though, and actually the little relation to the Bible no matter how people carp on about it is the least of its problems. Douglas Booth is rather bland and too pretty-boy-model-like while Logan Lerman came across as wooden and forced, Ham could easily have been the character we related to but for that to happen I think the film could have expanded much more on his character arc and situation. Ray Winstone is the most disappointing, he's done some great performances but this is not one of them, he is saddled with a very clichéd villain role that has no development to him and he overdoes it in a way that feels straight out of another film entirely. The characters generally are underdeveloped, especially the villain and Ham's subplot had potential to be expanded much more but Ila's character has a lot of heart and effort is made to humanise Noah although some of his decision making comes across as rather sudden.
The special effects are a mixed bag, the flood effects are outstanding and the built-to-scale ark also looks incredible, both of which with much grandeur. But the Rock Monsters(or the Watchers) have a dated look, are written in a way that feels irrelevant to the story or in a way that doesn't gel with everything else going on and slightly like Transformers clones, and some of the animals(notably the snakes) look like computerised toys that don't blend within the scenery very well. The dialogue does often feel stilted and confused, especially in the first act, while taking an overwrought if well-intentioned turn in the last and coming across as a little heavy-handed in places. The story does have a number of bright spots and contains some powerful messaging, but does drag a fair bit and has some stuff that felt like filler, the film easily could have been half-an-hour shorter. The story is also a bit of a weird one, and one that leaves more questions than answers, in a sense that it does feel like it doesn't quite know what it wants to be, there's some sci-fi, some action-epic and some character-driven study(which takes up the last act), all three of which with uneven results. The ending is for my liking a bit too convenient as well. Aronofsky's direction is broad and is at home with the style of the film and the spectacle but he fails to make the story properly engage(which is unusual for Aronofsky). Overall, ambitious but uneven. Noah is nowhere near as bad as a lot of the negative reviews have said and the stick it gets for not being close to the Bible is on the unfair side- in all fairness though Noah was advertised in a way that was suggestive that it was an adaptation of the biblical story when really it is the bare bones- but it does have a lot of flaws and could have been better considering how much talent was on board. 5/10 Bethany Cox