Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

"Noah 2014 seems terrified of anything not spelled out."

Darren Aronofsky is lost at sea with Noah, a film that delights in its own problem solving skills and drowns all sense of mystery. The result is as childish as the font for the opening credits after a green CGI snake slithers towards us, followed by a throbbing apple, and we get a quick memo about Cain, Abel, Seth and the Nephilim, biblical fallen angels, whom Aronofsky and his co­-screenwriter Ari Handel call The Watchers.

How did Noah build such a big ship with such a small family? Solution to the question, enter giant stone monsters as talking rocky transformers to save the day. Whereas old­ fashioned Hollywood Bible movies worked because of their technicolor grandiosity and explanations shrouded in mystery, Noah 2014 seems terrified of anything not spelled out.

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It is not a good sign when the song heard over the end credits is the most intriguing part of a movie. Mercy Is is performed by the Kronos Quartet with Patti Smith, who wrote it and also shares credit for the Father's Lullaby sung by Russell Crowe's Noah to Emma Watson's daughter-­in­-law­-of­-sorts, Ila.

The bad guys, descendants of Cain, ruled by Tubal­-Cain (Ray Winstone) have metal armor, throw little animals into the air before eating them raw, and want to take the ark away from Noah to survive. The animals are all CGI and the harmed doggy pig, with feathers instead of fur, is not shown suffering when impaled. They are an incidental nuisance. Aronofsky makes them least troublesome for his flawed world saver. Like the best behaved pets, flocks of birds, then piles of reptiles, buzzed over by swarms of insects, and lastly herds of mammals obediently load themselves into the ark and then fall asleep for the rest of the movie.

Noah's wife Naameh, played by Jennifer Connelly, is more alive and believable than the rest of the clan and knows how to mix the myrrh or frankincense to knock out the fauna for the trip. Her role is to be motherly, cry with verve, and ask questions such as "did He speak to you?" so that we understand that it is the inaudible, invisible "creator" telling her husband what to do. Get the animals and let the humans die out ­ that is heavy­ handedly told to us to be the divine plan.

The costumes look looted from an arts and crafts bazaar. A denim patchwork shirt for Noah and pretentious macrame net caftans for the ladies in earthen tones over pants come across as amateurish and careless. Grandpa Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) is fond of berries like his great­ grandson, conjures dreams of the ark in a tea anemone and makes barren girls fruitful.

Noah's sons get their neatly packaged concerns. Ham (Logan Lerman) wants to save the girl Na'el (Madison Davenport), the only one engaging, and becomes enraged towards his father and tempted by evil. Shem (Douglas Booth) wants to start a family, but God forbid.

What does Aronofsky want his audience to think about? That should you ever have the dilemma of choosing between killing babies or disobeying God, he recommends you pick the latter? Procreation and family values are to be treasured how? "The time of mercy's past. Now our punishment begins," says Noah to his wife and she tells him "I want my sons to have children. I cannot bear to think of them dying alone."

The stone guys (voiced by Nick Nolte, Frank Langella, and Mark Margolis), brothers in lore to Leviathan, who build and save the ark, must perish from Earth doing so, notwithstanding in best Hans Christian Andersen tradition. They are embraced by the heavens like the Little Match Girl or The Little Mermaid in a satisfying jumble of light and sea foam and immortal soul.

The heavy burden of the apocalypse hangs over Noah, who tells his son: "You will have to bury your mother and I. I'm very sorry about that." The fact that nobody bothered to inform him about the burden of the accusative case, throws you completely out of this painfully bland action movie that raises not a single sincere concern about the flood prone world we live in today.

Reviewed on: 31 Mar 2014
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A man believes that he was chosen to build an ark to save the world's animals and end human cruelty.
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Angus Wolfe Murray *

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson,Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte, Mark Margolis

Year: 2014

Runtime: 128 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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