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Noah

Year: 2014
Studio: Paramount
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky/Ari Handel
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Nick Nolte, Mark Margolis, Kevin Durand, Marton Csokas

It's fitting Russell Crowe's in this movie, because the curse of eternal profundity that hobble it really started with the movie that made him a star, Gladiator.

Every line sounds like it's been pre-approved by a Shakespearian sonnet writer as it issues from the speaker, delivered with serious eyes gazing wistfully (or balefully) across a horizon. Crowe's made a specialty of it in plenty of movies, and if you didn't know Anthony Hopkins was in it you'd be expecting him to show up - he makes a living these days playing slight variations on the Wise Old Leader Figure, only the make-up changes.

It's the three-paragraph Bible story stretched, padded, shredded and torn limb from limb out to a two and a half hour film, and it does so by shoe-horning in a war subplot and the stupidest explanation for how Noah (Crowe) and his family built the ark you've ever heard.

I completely understand Aronofsky and Paramount's sentiment in making it – some of the best stories the human race has can be found in old mythologies like The Bible (it's the reason so many Joseph Campbell-inspired archetypes are recycled over and over again), and a lot of them would make great cinema. That's just what I thought when I heard they were making the story of Noah's Ark.

Noah and his family eke out a living in a rocky mountain range when he has the distinct feeling 'the Creator' (never referred to as 'God' – perhaps one of the many concessions in the script not to alienate atheist moviegoers) is telling him something.

Seeking out his father, the ancient, slightly nutty (another Hopkins specialty) and reclusive Methusela, Noah becomes convinced by his visions – humanity is going to be destroyed for its wickedness, and he and his family are to be spared to repopulate the Earth – although it doesn't say how any more than it does in the Bible.

He builds the ship with the help of angels that were cast out of heaven and made into malevolent creatures made of rock on Earth. It might have sounded good on paper, but suddenly you're out of Shakespeare and into The Neverending Story. Aronofsky's shaky command of CGI doesn't help the idiotic creatures attain any of the elegance he was probably hoping for either.

And because a mere flood just wouldn't be exciting enough for modern audiences, the movie gives Maximus...er, Noah a horde of hedonistic heathens who realise what's going on and will try to take the Ark by force when the flood hits the fan. Funnily enough, they're the exact same opponents Maximus told his troops to 'unleash hell' on 14 years ago.

The animals come (bad CGI), the flood comes (passable CGI), and then it goes right off the rails as Noah becomes a man possessed when he and his wife's (Connelly) adopted daughter Ila (Watson) gets pregnant to their son Ham (Lerman) and he believes God wants him to kill the baby when it's born.

It's about Noah believing God wants all of humanity destroyed while his family plead with him to see reason and understand that a baby means new hope for humanity, and after nearly knifing twin infants to death we're then asked to feel sorry for this psychopath.

For a movie that features family, babies and children so much it's embarrassed about sex, looking away whenever things get beyond a winsome glance – maybe a racier, grittier outlook about the brutish reality of life in those times might have helped.

Overall I just think they gave Aronofsky too much money and he didn't know what to do with it. The narrative is extremely hackneyed and you'll guess more than one line in the script right before it's spoken. The effects are serviceable at times, dreadful at others, and it shows the hand of an indie director more used to character and drama who floundered when given scope, effects and the budget to execute them.

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