Biblical epics are a tough commercial sell within the film industry, but there are a select few which have often made a polarizing impact just enough to become box-office success stories (i.e. The Passion Of The Christ). For Noah, Paramount Pictures took an incredible chance behind director Darren Aronofsky’s vision for the story of a man (Gladiator’s Russell Crowe) charged with building an ark to save a number of species from extinction when the ‘creator’ decides to flood the world to cleanse its evil.
In the good book, the story of Noah’s ark is relatively brief, amounting to three passages. Never one to shy away from a film making challenge (for example his ambiguous and metaphorically spiritual film The Fountain), Aronofsky takes the opportunity to expand that story and explore Noah’s family, his convictions and his conflicting beliefs in the process. The $125 million production (Aronofsky’s biggest-to-date in the wake of his critically-acclaimed Black Swan success) also incorporates a lot of broad fantasy elements (i.e. giant rock creatures) and trademark visual appeal to make the movie accessible for an audience, whether they are devout or a general audience.
But for those who have followed Aronofsky’s career, will not be surprised to see his cinematic editing-flare applied to a number of Noah’s scenes, infusing it with an energy that at least keeps the picture in a positive light as an experience. But what Noah ultimately lacks is rousing drama that invokes immersion into the piece by a viewer. While the acting is very solid (helped by the returning chemistry between Crowe and his A Beautiful Mind co-star Jennifer Connelly) and the production value impressive, Noah leaves a satisfying impression but not a lasting one for long-term remembrance and multiple playbacks.
On Blu-ray (due for release on July 29, 2014), the movie looks nothing short of stunning in high-definition, thanks in no small part to its excellent cinematography by Matthew Libatique (Black Swan). Filmed in Iceland, the location provides a vibrant assortment of colours and textures that are radically captured in sharp 1080p detail. The 7.1 Master Audio DTS sound track is as powerful an experience as the visuals, roaring and thundering in all the right ways with great specificity when required.
The bonus end may seem light at first glance, but the three featurettes when played all at once form a very-well presented and edited behind-the-scenes documentary on the movie that is much higher in quality than other releases possessing this type of feature(s). The difficulties and challenges of shooting in Iceland is a primary focus along with filming the exterior and interior of the Ark sets. Along the way are interesting beats with Aronofsky detailing his passion and obsession for the story. A standard definition DVD disc is also part of the edition.
Noah is an ambitious and methodically crafted movie that formulates itself in a way where it won’t alienate an audience of any faith. The film contains a very strong cast, full of depth in their performances and a production design that nicely encapsulates the world and tone. Aronofsky’s particular style infuses the film with the energy it needs, but the end result is not entirely flawless. It does get the job done however in telling the infamous story from the book of Genesis in a unique way, with a highly recommended Blu-ray/DVD edition to back it up.