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Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman
In UK Cinemas April 4th, 2014

by Amanda Farley

Darren Aronofsky’s latest film has arrived and it will take me a long time to forget the 138 minutes I spent in its company. Based on the Bible story Noah’s Ark, it mixes a lot of creative license and CGI to produce an unforgettable and perhaps unforgivable cinematic experience.

Opening with the traditional ‘In the beginning there was nothing…’  we soon meet Noah (Russell Crowe), first as a child and then as a man. Quickly established as the hero and protector of life, it’s easy to want to know more about him and his world. However with every passing second this desire weakens until finally there really is nothing left but a longing for the end to come.

Noah and his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo Carroll) are outcasts, living on the verges of society with an adopted orphan Ila (Emma Watson). One night Noah dreams about the end of the world and visits his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) in search of answers. As a result, Noah begins to build his arc and to prepare for the arrival of the animals.

He is joined by The Watchers or Nephilim as they are called in Genesis. These fallen angles are giant humanoid mounds of rock that assist him with the arduous task of ship building. They also protect him against Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), the king of Cain’s descendants and a man determined to survive regardless of the cost.

There are so many things wrong with this film. Aronofsky seems unable to decide what kind of story he wants to tell. Caught between trying to create a biblical epic and really wanting to make a Lord of the Rings style feature, the result is an unsatisfying compromise.There is no new brave idea or concept offered up, instead we have a family melodrama played out in a world where nothing really hooks our attention. In focusing on the flawed mind of Noah, Aronofsky forgets that we already know the end. The stakes aren’t high enough to sustain any real emotional connection with the plot.

These story failings are obvious once the action moves to the confines of the ship. There just isn’t enough heart or real character development to drive the story so Aronofsky resorts to creating sensationalist moments of melodrama, which given the preordained ending, fail to have any power over the audience. If Noah can heartlessly kill all of humanity, except his family, its hardly surprising if he is willing to sacrifice others later on.

Visually this film is quite interesting. There are some lovely time-lapse sequences and the beauty of nature is portrayed in sharp contrast to the destructiveness of man’s existence. Overall though it is an odd mix. The ark, despite being built to scale, rather anticlimactically resembles an over sized shipping container. We might be impressed with its Tardis like qualities, but that’s about it.

And let’s just take a moment to comment on the fact that Adam and Eve are clearly Ila’s parents, there’s an uncanny family resemblance. The best bit though has to be the serpent. This CGI monster is hardly a persuasive agent of evil, it looks completely ridiculous.  And as for the forbidden apple… Whoever eats an apple with its own pulse deserves everything they get.

All in all I wouldn’t recommend this, but then maybe you’re in the mood for a watered down Lord of the Rings with an environmental twist. If so, this is your type of thing.

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