(Photo: Paramount Pictures)
The story of Noah has been told and retold for centuries with its titular character being one of the Bible's most recognizable, especially during Sunday school lessons.
However, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film will leave the audience wondering if they had ever been introduced to Noah at all. Released to theaters everywhere on Friday, March 28, "Noah" sparked controversy among Christians who speculated on how closely Hollywood would adhere to the Bible. While Aronofsky took several well-documented creative liberties, "Noah" remains true to the core themes in the Biblical epic.
Perfectly cast as Noah, Russell Crowe is a moody, dark and silently powerful in the glittering film. The Oscar-winning actor never falters in the difficult role as the sole patriarch that God deemed fit to live through the great flood, as written in the Biblical story of "Noah."
"Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God," Genesis 6:8-9 reads.
The story found in Genesis explains Noah and his ark, but the four chapters delve into little detail, which is where Aronofsky proved his imagination to be practically limitless in "Noah." The film introduces a Noah who is intrepid, conflicted yet faithful, and most importantly, in line with the Biblical description of him. The audience is transported directly Noah's daunting task to cleanse the world of evil, highlighting the emotional toll it takes on him and his family.
Crowe's grief as Noah draws a parallel to God's sorrow after mankind was overcome with evil. Nevertheless, the film clearly and accurately depicts the separation between man and God without preaching to the audience. In fact, "Noah" permits room for viewers to meditate on the meanings found in the Biblical story.
At first, Noah's wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) is supportive and comes to terms with humanity ending with her children-- but as dramatic stories go, the plot thickens. Without revealing any spoilers, a wedge is driven between Noah and his family, causing the Old Testament patriarch immense pain and frustration. Connelly is relatable as a clever, protective mother who is reserved yet powerful when interacting with Crowe on screen. The two actors are a duo that already proved successful in "A Beautiful Mind."
Rounding out the rest of the cast, Emma Watson portrays Noah's "adopted" daughter Ila. Where the "Harry Potter" actress occasionally struggles in the more mature role, she makes up for it with her commitment to the character. Also, Anthony Hopkins demonstrates his range as an actor in the role of Methuselah, allowing viewers to replace the cannibal Hannibal Lecter with a grandfatherly, gentle performance in "Noah." Lesser known than his "Noah" co-stars is Logan Lerman, who impeccably plays Noah's son Ham. The "Perks of Being A Wall Flower" actor is one to watch in upcoming films.
Supplementing the star-studded cast, "Noah" dazzles the audience with a blend of modern technology and skilled filmmaking. The dizzying cinematography is reminiscent of "Lord of the Rings" and is visually stunning, offering moviegoers instant entertainment. What is more though, Aronofsky's rendering provokes deeper thought about Noah that supersedes the flat, obedient character that some have imagined from Sunday school stories. The film honors both God's justice and His mercy, as well as humankind's goodness and evil.
In the end, "Noah" is just one interpretation of the Biblical tale. While critics may disagree on Biblical accuracy, the film sends all viewers - whether they believe Bible has many meanings or none - rushing to Genesis chapters 6 through 9 with a refreshed or altogether new interest in Noah.
Watch the trailer for the film here. The running time for "Noah" is 138 minutes.