If you are looking for a biblically accurate retelling of the story of Noah and the Ark, this film is not for you. “Noah” is instead a highly interpretive representation of Genesis five through nine.
As a movie, it offers gorgeous visual effects and a stellar cast, but becomes too melodramatic and absurd toward the end. Russell Crowe gives an outstanding performance as Noah, a man chosen by the creator to save the innocent from a flood sent to punish humanity for succumbing to temptation and becoming evil.
After seeing the coming judgment in a dream, Noah, his wife, three sons and adoptive daughter begin to build the ark with help from The Watchers, heavenly beings who were punished by the creator for descending to earth to help Adam and Eve after their fall. Those familiar with the biblical account will be pleased to see that at least the ark is accurately represented.
As the ark nears completion, a band of evil and desperate men led by Tubal-cain, played by the gritty Ray Winstone, arrive to claim their place on the ark. Confronted with the wickedness of men, Noah struggles to discern the creator’s intentions for those boarding the ark.
The stench of humanity is over one word powering at times during the movie, and when the rain begins to fall, “Noah” takes a dark turn as Tubal-cain’s forces fight for their lives. Crowe compellingly and eerily delivers Noah’s dogged, if misguided, determination to act justly.
Jennifer Connelly is among the capable cast of stars as Noah’s wife, torn between protecting her children and loving her husband. Emma Watson also presents herself well as Ila, the barren, adopted daughter of Noah and love of the oldest son Shem.
Although at times the camera work is dizzying and disorienting, “Noah” is visually stunning, alternating between sweeping shots of breathtaking landscape and tight facial close ups that exhibit the strength of the cast’s performanaces.
Once the flood waters rise and Noah’s family are aboard the ark, however, the movie becomes overly dramatic, and only the skilled performance of the cast keeps the audience from looking too closely at the logical fallacies and absurdities of the plot.
While definitely not a popcorn movie with its dark, and at times disturbing, depictions of humanity, “Noah” offers some redeeming qualities. Most notably the stellar cast and awe-inspiring scenery helps salvage the weak plot and present a fairly enjoyable film.