Noah
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins. Written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

FILM SYNOPSIS: God is grieved over the evil found in His creation. Wishing he had never created man, he orders the one man who still reverences his maker to build a boat. A very big boat. Soon, an apocalyptic deluge destroys the world, but for one man and his family. Director Darren Aronofsky, known for his innovative visual and stylized approach to filmmaking (Black Swan, The Fountain), attempts to dramatize and humanize the main protagonist, while also sensationalizing the story by including Noah befriended by fallen angels known as the Watchers (Nephilim, spoken of in Genesis 6:4), here portrayed as giant rock creatures.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Director Darren Aronofsky envisions Noah as an action figure, going all martial arts against meat-eating cave-dwellers in the first reel. And just as quickly establishes him as a man who hears the Creator in his head giving him instructions to save himself and other innocents as the perfect storm approaches. The filmmaker fleshes out a short-short biblical story by including material that sometimes raises an eyebrow, but always engages.

But when Noah tells an angry biblical figure that he’s not alone, he doesn’t just mean he’s Got God! He is also backed by, are you ready for this, fallen angels known as the Watchers (Nephilim, spoken of in Genesis 6:4) here portrayed as giant rock creatures who seek forgiveness from their Creator while aiding Noah.

The rock people must be discussed first because for this reviewer they were the one ingredient that made the $130-million production seem a little like a Sci-Fi Channel refugee. Asked at a press junket why the filmmakers had envisioned these fallen beings as something you might have seen in a Transformers movie, Aronofsky and writer Ari Handel presented well-thought out arguments that appeased most at the press conference, but left me wondering if audiences who hadn’t heard the filmmakers’ conception would be so satisfied.

At a recent press junket, I asked Mr. Aronofsky how they came to conceptualize these creatures as moving/speaking rock formations.

“I was inspired metaphorically when I conceptualized these ethereal beings as falling in love with Earth and humans and attempting to start another race. And because of doing this, their Creator imprisoned them by the earth.”

“You’re asking, ‘Why are they rock?’ writer Ari Handel interjected. “The idea of something ethereal, angelic and of a divine light trapped in a body of rock essentially shows their emotional pain. They wish to be above, but they’re trapped below inside of the earth itself. They’re symbolic.”

“I wanted this sense of crippled creatures, weighted down with their own punishment,” Aronofsky continued. “I think there’s a sense that they are in pain with every step they take. It’s their punishment.”

Reasonable answers, but since most movie attenders will never hear that explanation, the sudden visual of giant moving/speaking rock formations may cause many to associate Genesis with a Marvel graphic novel.

Before we go on, I must break a rule. I usually avoid telling people that they should go to this movie or stay away from that one. I see myself as an analyzer of the movie medium, bent on supplying parents and concerned moviegoers with the synopsis and reasons for the ratings. But here comes my rule-breaking: I think you should see this movie.

I’ve presented my one major dissatisfaction with this film and the Hollywood of today by exposing the CGI rock people. Now, let’s discuss the positives of Noah and why I just broke my rule.

The story of Noah and the great flood is found in Genesis 6-10 and it’s a bare-bones narrative, at least for those who attempt a two-hour movie adaptation. Mr. Aronofsky has gone to great lengths to envision his parable within the context of theological scrutiny. He dramatizes and humanizes the main protagonist, suggesting reasons for moments that have baffled theologians for years. Example: why did Noah get drunk after surviving the watery maelstrom? The film offers a feasible and meaningful proposition.

As for the environmental controversy associated with the film early on, mostly by those who hadn’t seen a screening, well, there really isn’t much more than Noah’s instruction to his child that we should respect God’s work and living things. In other words, the outrage is mostly picayune hype. Ultimately, Mr. Aronofsky’s story is very biblical as he presents God not just as a just God, but as a Creator whose mercy and love overrides His omniscient right to justice. There are several moving moments when we see the true dimension of God’s grace for mankind. That’s in keeping with any film bent on examining God’s true nature.

Noah, as played earnestly by Russell Crowe, effectively relates the Creation story to his children, the visual montage during this explanation is original, artistic and scripturally sound. Russell Crowe is three-dimensional as a man who seeks justice until God’s mercy overwhelms him. Costar Jennifer Connelly is also winning, creating a fully-realized character, despite the fact that little is given in Genesis to aid the actress. (Whenever you give Ms. Connelly a well-written character, as writers Ari Handel and Darren Aronofsky have done, she always reminds viewers that she is far more than just physically lovely.) And while there are several theatrical embellishments, none goes against biblical teaching. Though Mr. Aronofsky may have recreated Noah as an allegorical figure meant to address riddles that frustrate mankind, his intentions never show irreverence to the Testaments.

Noah is an epic movie experience that engages not only the cerebral but the emotional. On the way to the car, people discuss it. That’s when you know you’ve experienced true art. It’s not just a time-filler before going to some other time-filler. It’s a film that demands debate.

And that’s why I just broke my rule. Films such as Noah can be stimuli for spiritual exploration by those who never studied Scripture. And this movie may renew in churchgoers an interest in Scripture study. So, see Noah and take someone with you who has questions about how we came into being. But before you go and before you attempt to discuss Creation vs. the Big Bang Theory…read the Book!!

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Four or five minor expletives.
Profanity: None
Violence: Some violence including Noah defending himself against marauders; other people are seen drowning; to show the world’s corruption, one sequence features disturbing images; Cain kills Able; the rock people kill an attacking army much like a video game.
Sexual Intercourse: Implied, but nothing is shown.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Noah gets drunk in one scene.
Other: None
Running Time: 138 minutes
Intended Audience: 12 and Up

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