Much has been said about Darren Aronofsky’s action adventure epic “Noah”. Most of which I do not care to either reiterate or contribute to. The film has been the target of widespread criticism and controversy from both Christian and Atheistic viewers and naturally, the majority of articles written on “Noah” mention at least some of the rights and wrongs done by Aronofsky, in regards to the biblical character and his story as opposed to the character and his story in the film. After watching Noah twice, I contemplated whether I should write this review from my own, personal take on The Bible or simply focus on the film for exactly what it is, and refrain from delving into the director’s obvious statements and message on faith and theology. Considering I write for, and represent Hi-Def Ninja – a well established community where people of many cultures, nationalities, religions and walks of life gather to discuss a plethora of different hobbies and interests – I decided that it would be to our site’s benefit for me to simply stay away from adding fuel to either side of the religious debate. Thus, this article will be written on Noah, purely as a work of filmmaking. That said, I do suggest that those whom are influenced by all the negativity around this film – and have decided to refrain from watching it on account of that – to reconsider, and to go into it with an open mind, for Noah is not a bad film, at all.
For many of us, going into Noah completely oblivious to the story that goes with the name is simply not possible. That said, the film won’t necessarily be better or worse to those whom are unfamiliar with the history. As an action epic, Noah fares quite well. The introduction of the main character, some of his origin, and his family is a rather quick and breezy one, but it does a good job laying the foundation for what’s ahead of Noah. Following a disturbingly dark and stylish, though somewhat inconclusive dream sequence in which he is witness to the total destruction of the human race, Noah sets out to find his grandfather, Methuselah, in an attempt to get further clarification on the vision in his dream. From this moment on, it becomes clear what has to be done and the film begins moving along at a good pace, skipping several years in the process. The children are now grown up, and their “main” actors and actress have taken their young versions’ place. Unfortunately, this is also where a few things take a turn for the worse.
Other than Russell Crowe, the film’s cast boasts a handful of acting veterans like Ray Winstone, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins. Unfortunately, none of the above bring their “A” game to Noah, which makes for a few moments of unintentional hilarity where there should be no such thing. That said, however, Russell Crowe’s subdued and understated, yet powerful-when-necessary performance is reminiscent of his role as Maximus in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator”. His character is strong, and ready to carry out the task he is given, even if it means going to extreme measures. On the opposite end of this, Noah is a loving husband and father, who struggles with the decisions he has to make, and how it will inevitably affect his family. He is burdened with a vision of humanity’s annihilation, and Crowe’s dark and broody demeanor brings an appropriate mood to every scene we see him in. Emma Watson takes the cake as she brings her character, “Ila” to the screen with confidence and an excellent sense of realism. She’s a teenage girl who, due to a violent incident we aren’t witness to, is unable to bear children. She is in love with Noah’s oldest son, Shem, and she struggles with the fact that she won’t be able to provide him with a “whole” family. Even though she is well aware that it won’t matter when the water comes, she is steadfast in her decision to bring their relationship to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed Emma Watson’s performance, and I like to think this is just a glimpse of what we can expect from her as she slowly loses her “Hermoine” image.
Overall, Noah is decent entertainment. The story and plot are simple enough to follow, the few action sequences we’re provided with are done well, and the entirety of the film brings a whole bunch of CGI spectacle to the screen. The “creation” sequence in particular, features a unique style and wonderful imagery to go along with Crowe’s effective narration, and the watchers’ odd, misshapen, rock-like features look great, while their almost stop motion style movement is refreshing and fun to watch. The majority of the acting performances are mediocre at best, but Crowe and Watson make up for what the rest of the cast members lack.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Noah’s video transfer is nothing short of fantastic. Detail and clarity are high throughout the entire production, which in turn adds an almost surreal sense of depth to the image. Blacks are inky and remain intact, displaying no signs of crushing, whatsoever. The Icelandic scenery is absolutely stunning, albeit mostly dark, earthy and low on any color other than the green of plants and trees. Skin tones are realistic and natural, while the transfer’s insane amount of detail brings out every pore and even the slightest of imperfections. I was thoroughly amused by the fact that I caught myself trying to count each individual hair in Noah’s beard, on more than one occasion.
Noah’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track packs a real punch, too. LFE is fat and heavy, and if your sub can handle it, it’ll make sure you know it’s still there. Whether it’s fists connecting to faces, axes hitting wood, watchers’ footsteps, thunder and rain or Clint Mansell’s epic score – it all sounds equally awesome. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and easily understood, even when the action gets going. Even the quieter moments, when there isn’t much of anything going on, other than the wind and some footsteps in dirt or grass, this track really shines.
The Blu-ray set comes with just 3 special features, but they’re meatier than most of the supplements I have had a chance to watch lately. There’s a 20 minute special on Iceland and the country’s inherently beautiful landscapes, as well as the techniques used to be able to shoot in it’s rough and uneven terrain. The Ark Exterior is a 20 minute feature on the actual design of the Ark and puts in perspective why it looks the way it does. And last but certainly not least, The Ark Interior is a 20 minute piece on the Ark’s interior set design. All of these features are presented in a 1080P resolution, and contain a serious amount of interesting behind-the-scenes footage.
No matter which side of the religious fence you’re on, Noah is worth your time. Despite it’s flaws, it’s still a solid epic with an entertaining story, a likeable cast, some great action sequences and a overall big budget adventure film feel. Paramount Pictures’ Blu-ray set features stellar video and audio, as well as a nice set of special features for those whom are interested. Noah comes recommended, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on July 29th.