On the surface, Russell Crowe starring in a biblical tale directed by Darren Aronofosky (“Requiem for a Dream”, “Black Swan”) sounds like Oscar bait. It isn’t. And the sooner you accept it, the more fun you’ll have at this satisfying disaster movie (that’s what I’m calling it). Hearing Noah’s Australian accent (lol) is jarring at first, but Crowe’s co-stars, including Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Douglas Booth and Anthony Hopkins don’t sound biblical either. No worries. Aronofsky and his screenwriting partner Ari Handel will keep you in the game for as long as it takes. But it seems that they both want to have their cake and eat it too. That’s a tough trick to pull off and they almost get away with it. Almost. As a result, I can only call the finished film a mixed bag, with exciting scenes followed by dull stretches. But no movie so rich in imagination and so skillfully staged could or should be dismissed out of hand. In adapting a biblical story, “Noah” opens with the Original Sin. Some years later, Noah has a vision which he does not understand at first. Later on he begins to realize that God has chosen him to survive the great flood that will wipe humankind off the face of the earth (Yikes!). For that, he must build a huge ark and help the innocents of the world (mainly animals). Still with me? Good. Because Noah has an enemy as well, Tubal-Cain (well played by Ray Winstone), whose followers are descended from Cain, the first murderer. Yep you probably guessed it: they all want the ark.
At 138 minutes, “Noah” is an entertaining movie, not the least because it looks so great. Matthew Libatique, who has done consistently fine work for Aronofsky over the years, tops himself here, fashioning one spectacular scene after the other. His images aren’t meant to call attention to themselves. Their purpose is to serve the story in the best possible way, and in Noah’s case, they do. One can’t help but marvel at the results. So why didn’t I feel more emotionally connected to this beautifully crafted film? That’s because Aronofsky’s films are not known for their warmth. At least that’s what I tend to believe. The climactic scene in “Noah” ought to be moving, but it isn’t. I couldn’t feel a thing. Is Aronofsky purposely trying to avoid sentimentality? I’m not sure. Either way, I enjoyed watching his take on “Noah”, but I wish I had felt more when it came to a close.