Noah
Four Stars (out of five). Released by Paramount Pictures. Running time 138 minutes. Rated PG-13. This was reviewed in the theater on April 13, 2014.

Where in this drydock is the ark being built? Oh wait, you mean this is the ark?! Noah way! Sorry, just had to get that out of the way. But, yeah, this movie wound up being a pleasant surprise for me. It was a biblical epic, which I usually avoid like the plague, but two things drew me to see this: it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, who gave us the magnificent The Fountain, and it stars the equally magnificent Jennifer Connelly, whose mere presence manages to make even the worst movie watchable (although the Incredible Hulk was still pretty tough to sit through, even with her charms on display). Connelly stars as Noah’s wife, with Noah being played by an extremely good Russell Crowe. For those who haven’t read the bible, spoilers ahead! Just kidding; who hasn’t heard of the Noah’s Ark myth, where he saves humanity and animals from a great deluge in his ark?

Look the first fresh water spring! Let's bottle and sell it! As expected, Aronfsky takes a more gritty look at the myth, with the film looking very dismal with its drab earthy tones. The children of Cain (the dude who killed Abel) have gone on to create a vast civilization that’s filled with greed and hatred, along with an all around nasty attitude that manages to really tick off the Big Guy Upstairs. It’s time to clean house on Earth, but not before Noah is warned of the coming deluge, the great flood that will wipe out humanity. Noah gets to work on the fabled ark with the help of a group of fallen angels known as The Watchers. These rock and mud-encrusted angels are two stories tall, which makes them very handy with all the heavy lifting.

This week on That's My Noah, the gang deal with the wacky in-laws! King Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) finds out about this ark building, and while the presence of the Watchers prevents him from mounting an all out attack, he sets up camp nearby and bides his time, which happens to be when it starts raining. Aronfsky wisely solves a major problem I always had with the Noah’s Ark story by having Noah and his family put the animals into a deep sleep via an early version of suspended animation. But this Noah goes even further than past adaptations by not ending once the rains come. Instead, the film gives us a nice little twist when Noah, now sailing the high seas, abruptly decides that no humans are worthy of surviving the deluge, only animals.

She's actually Hermione's great-great-great-great-great-geat-grandmother. In addition to Crowe, Connelly and Winstone, the superb cast also includes the always great Anthony Hopkins as Noah’s grandfather, and Hermione herself, Emma Watson, who gives a great performance as Noah’s stepdaughter. While there are still lingering questions that are ignored (like how did only one family manage to repopulate the entire human race?), Aronfsky has managed to make the Noah myth just as accessible as Peter Jackson did with the Hobbit. While I don’t believe the events of Noah’s Ark actually happened any more than I thought the events of the Hobbit did, Noah was still an enjoyable, well-acted and overall well-done fantasy. --SF

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