Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ an Old Testament scolding

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:04pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

There has always been something a little Old Testament about Darren Aronofsky’s films, so maybe it makes sense that he’s going back to the source for his new movie. The director of “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler” is on board with the original disaster epic: Noah and the flood.

Armed with the latest in computer-generated effects, Aronofsky is quite serious about this telling of the biblical tale — even grim, you might say. Noah, played by a glowering Russell Crowe, is a man convinced that his Creator plans to drown the world.

Curiously, Aronofsky shrugs off a couple of staples of the Sunday-school rendition of the story: Noah’s social ostracizing for believing in the flood (and the resulting gotcha when all the nonbelievers get soaked), and the majesty of the animals heading two-by-two into the ark.

This “Noah” focuses on a moral fable. It would be unfair to spell out Aronofsky’s twist on the story, as the movie itself doesn’t reveal it until we’re halfway through and the ark is rising on the water. But it’s an interesting idea, and it gives Aronofsky a chance to indulge in his customary scolding of humanity.

That ark itself is an imaginative vessel, a squared-off behemoth that looks as though it might actually float. Before the rain starts to fall, Noah must deal with a local chieftain (Ray Winstone) who causes trouble, and with giant rock monsters that are described as “fallen angels.”

Jennifer Connelly, Crowe’s co-star from “A Beautiful Mind,” plays his wife here; Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth are their oldest sons. Emma Watson, getting out from under the “Harry Potter” umbrella, is taken into the family as a wounded child.

Everybody overacts, although Crowe maintains his dignity. The feverish pitch indicates just how seriously “Noah” takes itself, and it comes as no surprise that at some point Noah pauses to recount the early verses of the book of Genesis, complete with “Tree of Life”-style psychedelic birth-of-life imagery.

For sheer spectacle, the movie certainly uses a big paintbrush, which is sometimes fun to gaze at. But it frankly takes too long to get to Aronofsky’s truly original variation on the tale, as well as introducing the hint (if I’m not mistaken) of a theme from “The Searchers” running beneath the parable.

The liberties taken with the brief biblical tale of Noah have caused the usual Hollywood vs. religion “controversy,” which in this case is pretty silly (especially given the tortured sincerity with which Aronofsky approaches his storytelling). The movie’s not against religion. It just isn’t very good.

“Noah” (two stars)

A return to the biblical tale of the flood, as Noah (Russell Crowe) builds his ark with the help of giant rock monsters. Director Darren Aronofsky adds a couple of interesting twists to the story, turning it into a grim moral tale that takes itself very, very seriously. With Jennifer Connelly.

Rating: PG-13, for violence

Opening: Friday at Alderwood Mall, Edmonds Theater, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thorton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza.

Talk to us

More in Life

Josh Haazard Stands inside his workspace, the HaazLab, where he creates a variety of cosplay props and other creative gadgets, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at his home in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
This contraption crafter turns junk into sci-fi weaponry

Joshamee “The Chief” Haazard is a costume prop maker in Monroe. He transforms trash into treasure.

Shawn McQuiller of Kool & The Gang performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Kool & The Gang and Average White Band are coming soon to a casino near you. Queensryche also is due in Arlington.

For your kids’ sake, stress less about their grades this school year

Don’t make a big deal over grades. Instead, encourage out-of-classroom activities and remember, learning is supposed to be fun.

At the prehistoric fortress of Dun Aengus, the dramatic west cliffs of Ireland meet the turbulent sea as Europe comes to an abrupt end. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Enjoy the simple life on Ireland’s starkly beautiful Aran Islands

Three limestone islands make up the Aran Islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

American Queen changes COVID protocols; can I get a refund?

fter American Queen changes its COVID protocols, Patricia Voorhees Furlong and her husband want to skip their river cruise. Is that allowed? Or, will they lose out on $7,858?

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of LOCASH perform during CMA Fest 2022 on Thursday, June 8, 2022, at the Chevy Riverfront Stage in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The country music duo Locash drops by the Angel of the Winds Casino on Saturday. And there’s the Summer Meltdown festival at its new home near Snohomish all weekend.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

The 2022 Lexus GX has a 301-horsepower V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and full time all-wheel drive. (Lexus)
Updated 2022 Lexus GX 460 expands list of standard features

Navigation and a 10.3-inch multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included.

Bruce Johnson has an exhibit on the history of clowns at the Lynnwood Library in Lynnwood, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Clown historian takes the funny business very seriously

Bruce Johnson, a.k.a “Charlie the Juggling Clown,” wants to pass his craft down to future generations.

Most Read