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Noah (2014)

Review: written Sep 2014

Flawed Reimagining Of Noah Story

Noah (2014)

I suspect your opinion on Noah will probably be in large part dictated by your expectations going in to it. In pure Hollywood terms, this is an off beat fantasy blockbuster with some human drama well played by its excellent cast, which overall works despite some odd creative choices. However, you can't ignore that this is ostensibly a biblical story.. and in terms of telling that story, a lot of liberties have been taken. All throughout the movie, The Creator is discussed, and talked to - but if you are expecting a glowing bearded face booming instructions in a James Earl Jones voice, you will be disappointed. Noah gets his instructions through dreams and visions, some herbal induced, and even then these show snippets of the impending calamity leaving the interpretation and decisions up to Noah. The Nephilim (or `The Watchers' as they are called in the movie) are represented here, as has been widely derided, as rock monsters, their angelic beings encrusted with the earth on which they have been banished - but the idea of the Nephilim as fallen angels is in fact mentioned in Genesis as well as other Jewish texts. And the human drama is interesting - but it is all Hollywood writing, a "maybe it was like this" approach, which has no basis in the original source material.

So cast wise - Hopkins plays an odd old Methusaleh who has some magical talents and is more interested in berries than the future it seems, Crowe really does inhabit the role as written in the script, and special mention should go to Jennifer Connally who really makes something out of what could have been a nothing role. There are definitely some really interesting ideas here about exploring how Noah and his family would have felt, seeing and hearing the destruction not just of the evil outside, but of everything they once knew. The wails of the survivors growing gradually quieter, as the family discuss whether it is right to allow their complete destruction or whether they should trail ropes. Noah is a determined man, sure of his interpretation of his vision, and this drives the human part of the drama. It's refreshing to see such an important biblical character portrayed in a very `human' light. The only drawback is, that it necessarily becomes one directors interpretation.. something you can either accept, or it is going to bug you. Ray Winstone's king seems a forced element, and the expansion of Ham's role as the troubled son only half works. For the effects, the depiction of the animals being gathered works well, as does the idea of having them sleep for the journey.. however the scenes of the flood seem artificial compared to the grittiness of had been shown before.

In short, there are some great ideas, but the movie seems put together never quite deciding what its identity should be, and it is hard to imagine a segment of the audience that won't find something to be irritated by. Brave and interesting in places, too Hollywood and pandering in its ecological message in others. Ultimately flawed, unexciting, layered with some very personal interpretations, and yet intriguing enough to be worth watching if you can get past all that.

Noah (2014)

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