Sunday, March 30, 2014

Noah (2014 film)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel, Noah is a dramatic re-telling of Noah’s Ark in which Noah sees an apocalyptic vision as he decides to build an ark with his family before a great flood emerges. The film is a grand vision of the Noah’s Ark story where it plays into a man trying to save his family and animals from a world that is being ravaged by terror and the fault of mankind. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Ray Winstone, and Anthony Hopkins. Noah is an extravagant yet intense film from Darren Aronofsky.

The story of Noah and his ark is a story that’s been told for ages as this film is a dramatic interpretation of that story where Noah (Russell Crowe) builds an ark to save his family and animals. Yet, it’s a film that explores a world where humanity has taken advantage of the world they live in as Noah and his family try to live in peace until Noah sees a vision of a world where humanity is wiped out. Once Noah builds his ark with his family and a small group of fallen angels who became stone-like creatures called the Watchers. Noah has to contend with the presence of Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) who only sees the cruelty of the Creator as he would try to sway Noah’s young son Ham (Logan Lerman) into giving in towards temptation. What Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel do is tell the story in a dramatic form while playing into the myth of Noah and where he’s descended from.

The film begins with a story of Adam and Eve and the three sons they created in Cain, Abel, and Seth. Tubal-cain is a descendant of Cain while Noah is a descendant of Seth as the latter would seek guidance from his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) who would also help the rest of his family. While the screenplay does take some liberties into the story where it would only focus on Noah, his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), their three sons, and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). It would play into the internal struggles that Noah deals with as he becomes confused about whether to save the rest of humanity as those he had encountered including Tubal-cain are filled with sin and temptation that had destroyed the world and ravaged the things that the Creator has made.

Aronofsky’s direction is truly vast in not just its scope but also in the way he presents the world that is coming apart by temptation and cruelty where only Noah and his family are the few who have been good towards the Earth and its surroundings. With much of the location set in Iceland with scenes of the ark construction set in upstate New York, Aronofsky goes for something that could’ve been set anywhere in the world while he does utilize visual effects for some dazzling sequences where Noah plants a seed where trees are created for the wood he needed for the ark. Much of the direction has Aronofsky go for a lot of spectacular wide shots and massive scenes involving crowds and such to play into the dark world that Noah needed to protect his family from.

The direction also includes scenes where it is set on the ark as Aronofsky wanted the ark to look as realistic as possible where it’s a place where animals and plants can be salvaged while Noah’s family can be safe and look for some message of hope after the rain dies down. Yet, there’s also a sense of tension that occurs over Noah’s sense of hopelessness and doubt as the element of suspense and drama is raised where Naameh and Ila become much more prominent in trying to get Noah to see reason. Especially when he completes his task and deals with what was gained and what got lost. Overall, Aronofsky creates a very compelling yet glorious film about the story of Noah and his ark.

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its use of natural lights for some of the exteriors with some usage of grey in the rainy scenes along with some low-key lighting schemes and sepia tones for the scenes inside the ark. Editor Andrew Weisblum does incredible work with the editing with its use of montages, jump-cuts, and other stylistic cuts to play into the suspense and drama that occurs in the film. Production designer Mark Friedberg, with supervising art director Dan Webster and set decorators Nicholas DiBlasio and Debra Schutt, does amazing work with the set pieces from the design of the ark in its interior and exteriors to the tents that Noah and his family lived in.

Costume designer Michael Wilkinson does nice work with the costumes as it plays the ragged look of the characters as it plays into a world that is in its infancy. Visual effects supervisors Ben Snow and Joe Takai do terrific work with the visual effects for the look of the flood and the design of the creatures and Watchers though some of it does look a bit wobbly at times. Sound editor Craig Henighan does superb work with the sound from the way some of the action in the locations sound to the sounds of people screaming during the flood where Noah and his family are listening from inside. The film’s music by Clint Mansell is fantastic for its bombastic orchestral score and serene pieces to play into the drama and sense of adventure as the soundtrack includes performances by the Kronos Quartet and a closing song sung by Patti Smith.

The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is great as it features voice work from Mark Margolis and Kevin Durand as a couple of Watchers, Nick Nolte as the leader of the Watchers, and Frank Langella as the voice of a Watcher who immediately recognizes Noah as a human to trust. Other notable small roles include Gavin Casalegno, Nolan Goss, and Skylar Burke in their respective roles as the younger versions of Shem, Ham, and Ila along with appearances from Marton Csokas as Noah’s father Lamech, Madison Davenport as a refugee that Ham meets, and Dakota Goyo as the young Noah. Anthony Hopkins is superb as Noah’s grandfather Methuselah as a man who often gives Noah and his family some guidance while providing some bits of humor in his craving for berries. Leo McHugh Caroll is terrific as Noah and Naameh’s young son Japheth who watches over the birds he cares for.

Douglas Booth is excellent as Noah’s eldest son Shem who tries to deal with his love for Ila and watch over the family whenever Noah does other things. Logan Lerman is fantastic as Noah’s middle son Ham who becomes lost in the idea of being alone after the flood as he becomes tempted by Tubal-cain about the realities of humanity. Ray Winstone is amazing as the very cunning Tubal-cain as a man who tries to talk to the Creator as he deals with the chaos and despair of the world where he goes after Noah and later manipulates Ham. Emma Watson is brilliant as Noah’s adopted daughter Ila as a young woman who deals with the fact that she can’t have a child as she also would later cope with some of the decisions Noah would make.

Jennifer Connelly is remarkable as Naameh as the wife of Noah who is also the voice of reason as someone who tries to get Noah to look closer at his surroundings as she knows what he’s dealing with as she also thinks about her family and their future. Finally, there’s Russell Crowe in a marvelous performance as the titular character as a man who realizes what is going to happen as he tries to salvage all that is good in the world while becoming lost over his task and what it all means as it’s a performance that has Crowe being tough but also display a sensitivity that doesn’t get seen much from him.

Noah is a phenomenal film from Darren Aronofsky that features amazing performances from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone. While it does have a few flaws, it is still an engrossing story that manages to bring a lot of humanity and stakes into a story that’s been told so many times. Especially as Aronofsky infuses it with a lot of visual spectacles and ideas that will captivate a wide audience as well as bring something to religious audiences. In the end, Noah is an incredible film from Darren Aronofsky.

Darren Aronofsky Films: Pi - Requiem for a Dream - The Fountain - The Wrestler - Black Swan - mother! - The Auteurs #2: Darren Aronofsky

© thevoid99 2014


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you liked this! It is a seriously flawed film, but those flaws also make it so compelling. I cannot stop thinking about this film...CANNOT! Great review! I'd love to hear your thoughts on mine as well.

thevoid99 said...

Thank you. I knew it wasn't going to be perfect but I still enjoyed it and I'm still thinking about it. I'll read your review later today.

Alex Withrow said...

Great review man. I mean, holy shit, how talented is Matthew Libatique? Dude is a master of low light and stunning imagery. His contribution to the film was worth the price of admission alone.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex Withrow-Totally. While I think Requiem is his best work w/ Black Swan a close second, this one was really good. Especially for the way the scenes in the ark are just amazing and definitely worth the price of admission.