Noah (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, July 2015)  When Noah was announced as heralding the return of the biblical epic, I’m not sure anyone quite expected… this.  Both faithful to the letter of the Flood and almost crazily unhinged as a fantasy film, Noah is certainly a bold bet by writer/director Darren Aronofsky.  He brings old-testament back thanks to a somewhat unique interpretation of angels fallen to Earth, introduces conflict among the Ark, meanders for two minutes in presenting a single-shot take on evolution, supposes a pre-Flood industrial society… it’s ambitious and scattered and impressive and exasperating at once, the film never quite jumping where one expect it to go.  Questions of humanity’s survival are bandied about, Russell Crowe goes brilliantly crazy at times, the building (and stuffing) of the Ark is handled in a semi-plausible fashion (given the existence of giant rock-monsters and sleeping potions).  As far away from blockbuster film as a reported 150 million dollar budget can allow, Noah is a definitive oddity coming from a major studio and the kind of flawed movie that makes a better impression than more successful, but more restrained ones.  It suggests (especially when juxtaposed with 2014’s Exodus) that in adapting classic bible stories it’s best to go as wild as possible.  Yet for all of its deviations of reality and borrowings from fantasy epic film, Noah does feel relatively respectful to at least the ideas of the Old Testaments… while delivering a big dose of wonder along the way.  Not bad at all, even though you may struggle to explain why, exactly, Noah feels so interesting.

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