Noah Blu-ray Review
When you think about the story of Noah and the Ark chances are you don’t conjure visions of rock monsters and more science fiction fodder. Darren Aronofsky, the eclectic auteur responsible for so much confusing allegory (PI, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE FOUNTAIN), brings a new interpretation of this biblical story to life with NOAH, a movie that may not be terribly biblically accurate but still delivers a relatively fun, original ride.
NOAH is the story of the last son of the line of Seth, the third child of Adam and Eve. After Cain kills Abel, he is cast out an builds a society that shuns “the Creator” leaving only Noah’s family carrying the torch caring for the life in the world. When Noah (Russell Crowe) is delivered a cryptic message in a dream he sets out with his family to locate his grandfather, Methusaleh (Anthony Hopkins) to help him interpret the dream and discover its meaning. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that the message is to build to Ark, a large ship where Noah can house all of the innocents (the animals) who are to survive the flood.
Noah and his family are beset by violent opposition from the forces of Tubal-cain, the last descendent of Cain and self-proclaimed king of the world (played by the awesome Ray Winstone). They are only able to overcome the onslaught of men through help from “the Watchers”, fallen angels who chose to defy god when they felt pity for Adam and Eve. Oh yeah – and the Watchers are essentially giant rock monsters (a la GALAXY QUEST) with 6 arms. Along the way we also get to see a bit of a coming-of-age story about Noah’s sons; which is a little off-putting, honestly, as it doesn’t seem to propel the story in any way.
Now, every movie we watch requires suspension of disbelief. As a moviegoer we are required to allow ourselves to try to trust the story the filmmakers are telling, at the very least within the universe they have created on the screen. The problem with a movie like NOAH is that the basic story is so universally known it is incredibly confusing and difficult to have these other facets introduced (or flushed out depending on your awareness of the Book of Enoch and other supplemental texts from the same era as the writings eventually used for the Bible). I’m a big fan of science fiction films so I appreciated some of the decisions Aronofsky made in the service of narrative freedom and propelling the plot but if you come to this movie expecting a faithful retelling of the story from the bible you will be sorely disappointed.
Aronofsky is an uncompromising director and if you’ve seen anything he has made you’ll probably agree this is the least stylized (though by most standards it is highly stylized) of his films. For me the toning down absolutely contributed to my enjoyment of NOAH and helped me to get lost in the world. His style is becoming more refined but, I believe, more powerful and meaningful to a wider audience. While that may be blasphemy to some folks I’m all for entertainment when I lose myself in another world. And this is what I particularly liked about NOAH… from the very onset of the film Aronofsky establishes that this is his version of the story through a beautiful and mesmerizing opening sequence that basically covers the whole of creation, the story of man’s exile from Eden, and finally the fall that leads to the flood.
Because of these things I was able to look past a few other issues that initially nagged at me. For instance why does the movie only refer to God as ‘The Creator’? I found it interesting at first but slightly distracting as the movie progressed. Some will have issues with the inclusion of the vegetarian message as well. But none of the pieces of the story will have anyone as up in arms as the Watchers. While my first reaction was disappointment in the end I actually liked the way they were included in the story – though I grant you they will be divisive. Regardless of your take, though, NOAH is an epic film from a great filmmaker and I recommend it.
NOAH BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.85:1) NOAH is one of the most beautiful Blu-rays I have played on my 1080p television. Stylized images are used to great effect to immerse the audience in the action.
Audio: (English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio for NOAH is also quite good, with a nice score from frequent Aronofsky collaborator Clint Mansell and great sound mixing.
Three making-of featurettes are presented on the NOAH Blu-ray. They are interconnected but separate, each providing an in-depth view into the making of the film, interviews with the crew, and beautiful footage from behind the scenes and the final feature.
Iceland: Extreme Beauty (20:40) A beautiful making-of feature focuses on the reason the filmmakers chose to make NOAH in Iceland. They also had to deal with lots of challenges with the weather and finding the best locations to shoot.
The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits (19:46) This featurette goes into the lengths the filmmakers went to create a fairly accurate ark. Interesting details here though I would have liked something looking more at the basis for the story.
The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two (19:55) The final featurette looks at the interior shots of the ark and the careful construction, set-up, and shooting of this seminal set-piece.
NOAH also features a DVD copy and both an UltraViolet and iTunes Digital Copy file.