Noah, Blu-ray (2014)Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson Director: Darren Aronofsky Studio: Paramount (7/29/14) (Blu-ray+DVD, 1 disc) Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p Audio: English Dolby 5.1, DTS-HD MA 7.1, Dubbed French, Portuguese, Spanish Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish Length: 137 minutes Extras: Iceland: Extreme Beauty (HD, 21 min) The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits (HD, 20 min) The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two (HD, 20 min) Rating: ****
I had so many reasons in my mind to not like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah that I was quite surprised to find it inspiring and moving. Ever since Aronofsky’s Pi it was obvious he was a director to watch.
Most biblical epics fall flat to me, largely because of over the top sentimentality and too much religiosity substituting for thought. Noah was compelling, tremendous in scale, beautiful visually and aurally. More important, the film had some important things to say about man’s relationship with his God. When the film became controversial, as so many worthwhile religious films do, I knew it was worth a visit.
Noah is not a standard religious epic. Rather than shrink the story, like Steven’s Greatest Story Ever Told, Aronofsky gives the brief story of Noah in the bible a heft and expansion that really brings the conflicts to life.
Visually, the film may be one of the most stunning films I have ever seen. There is a lot of darkness and dimly lit scenes, but there is also vibrant use of color such as in the time lapse sequence when Noah explains the origins of man and the world. It is breathtaking, never to be forgotten imagery. The scenery, filmed in Iceland and sometimes augmented with CGI is exquisite.
The audio, which I listened to in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, is simply amazing. It doesn’t have the deepest bass I have heard in a movie, but the precise sound field created does put you in the film. Voices, the score by Clint Mansell, the creaking of the Ark are very real. It’s an audio demo disc in every way.
There were so many things that could have gone wrong in Noah. Particularly in the acting and casting. Yet Russell Crowe is believable in an unbelievable and almost unplayable role. Kudos also to Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson.
It’s not a perfect film. Aronofsky’s depiction of what the people refer to as “giants in the earth” are “The Watchers”, lumbering rock creatures who are fallen angels. The CGI seems weak here, and I had flashbacks to every bad Transformers movie I had ever seen.
Still, Noah is a feast for the eye, the ear, and yes, the mind. It’s not a film for Bible literalists, but for most it will be compelling and thoughtful. It has elements of destruction-fests like 2012 but it never loses its dramatic thrust and focus on characters.