The belated nature of this review is probably the most damning thing one could level upon Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.
While an intriguing enough feature, especially when director Darren Aronofsky goes hell for leather, away from the spectacle there remains frustratingly little to say about the picture. Post-screening conversational patter revolves around just how out-there Noah is, no less a feat considering it’s a major studio production and the result of around one hundred and twenty-five million dollars worth of investment. Giant fallen angels, fused with rock and with faces made of fire are as interesting and downright peculiar as that description implies, while Russell Crowe is on solid form as the eponymous protagonist, but thoughts turn away from the film more quickly than the pun-worthy tide would take to retreat.
The flood story is one synonymous with the birth of the spectacle. One might even argue that it was the first blockbuster. In the flood myth we have a tale which spans multiple histories and religions, with the Noah one grounded specifically that of the Christian faith. The idea of a grand apocalyptic flooding of the plains brings to mind all manner of overt and dramatic imagery, which would seem a perfect fit for the American cinema of sweeping tableau. Alas, and is is the case with so much of the blockbuster tradition, it’s the echo that leaves the least-lasting impression, which is especially disappointing given the timespan over which the inspiring source material has remained relevant.
Within the moment though things impress. As is always the case with a Darren Aronofsky picture, the aesthetics impress greatly. Memorable imagery recalls the great imprinters of apocalyptic imagery. The work of English Romanticist John Martin is the key touching point, with his sweeping canvasses of mass destruction containing in singular frames the kind of visceral drama one would find in a contemporary disaster movie, while the films more characterful, personal moments are wholly intertwined with the more insularly chilling paintings of Hieronymous Bosch. Aronofsky’s regular collaborator Clint Mansell brings a typically satisfying sonic accompaniment to the table, an instantly iconic piece of music that will no doubt go on to be live a second life of being played to death over trailers for other films and during sports highlight round-ups.
The film is undeniably at its best when Aronofsky is unflinchingly himself. Noah takes the filmmaker in a new direction, to heights and levels of studio involvement thus far unseen, and while it’s moderately satisfying on one level, that of the overt, one can’t help but feel as though it’s lacking in the more cerebral moments, which is an area so often so well covered by the director. While by no means a failure, one can’t help but feel that certain aspects of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah feel like something of a missed opportunity.