Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movie Review: Noah

Darren Aronofsky makes some weird movies. It's what he does and it's why I love the man. The first time I saw Requiem For a Dream my fragile little mind was reduced to paste. His 2010 masterwork, Black Swan, was so spellbinding I almost called Natalie Portman by her schizo ballerina character when I met (re: gawked at ) her a few years ago. Aronofsky's films are delightfully twisted and his style of filmmaking is so vivid and compelling, his movies literally haunt their viewers in the best way possible. I'm glad to announce that his latest film, a big budget adaptation of the biblical tale of Noah (the OG Ace Ventura) is as dark and weird as a huge studio film could possibly be in this day and age.

First, if you come into Noah expecting a traditional Judeo-Christian version of events you're probably going to hate this. Like torches and pitchforks hatred. Aronofsky uses the old bible story as a vehicle to craft another creepy character study about yet another violent and self destructive OCD type. Instead of drug addicts, failed wrestlers or psychotic ballerinas, we get Noah. You know, the dude who housed and inventoried two of every animal in the world inside a massive hand built ship meant to weather the apocalypse, whilst every person in the world died an agonizing, oxygen deprived death. That guy. This being an ancient myth/fable, it's not exactly grounded in reality, forcing Aronofsky to make some interesting storytelling decisions. Noah is basically two films, the first dealing with the supernatural deity/hocus pocus stuff and the last centering on chilling personal/family conflicts. Both sides are handled with enough weighted respect that they end up forming one gripping film.

Russel Crowe may play Noah, but the film's real star is the director himself. How Aronofsky crams so many polarizing elements into this supposedly mainstream flick is beyond me. You have crazy Requiem style cuts and flashbacks to the Garden of Eden, giant rock monster angels roaming the streets (desert), Lord of the Rings style battle sequences, cutesy CGI animals up the wazoo, angsty coming of age drama for the teens and the gnarliest family dispute EVER. Oh yeah, and lots of implied incest. How Aronofsky made this into a coherent film, let alone an entertaining one is a miracle. Everyone in the cast delivers solid performances, especially my wifey Emma Watson and Jennifer "Queen of my universe" Connelly. Crowe and Connelly create A Beautiful Mind reunion onscreen while Watson and Logan Lerman (playing Noah's troubled middle son Ham) have a The Perks of Being a Wallflower rendezvous as well. Good actors, cool special effects, and a wacky fantastical story that doesn't insult our intelligence. Good job Darren. Now let the dreaded "book VS movie" debate rage on.

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