I don't know about you, but I think of Russell Crowe as a great actor.
Sure, for every The Insider and A Beautiful Mind there's a Broken City and some interview where he comes off as a jerk, but Crowe has consistently proved his heft in carrying big films. Even when he's singing slightly off-key as Javert in Les Mis, the one thing you can't criticise is his commitment.
When equally earnest film-maker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) offered Crowe the role of Noah, it's no surprise the unashamed egotist couldn't turn it down.
While comics, young adult fiction and foreign blockbusters are constantly being mined to feed the Hollywood monster, the Bestselling Book of All Time has been largely left alone. Good on Aronofsky (and co-writer Ari Handel) for braving the inevitable controversy and seeking to tell an epic tale on a modern scale.
Bad on them for coming up with the biggest load of old rubbish I've seen in a year.
Slamming a passion project, which all parties involved took completely seriously, is not big or clever. Furthermore, I genuinely wanted to love this film. One thing the big studios do well is render massive natural disasters (or, in this instance, literal Acts of God) incredibly well, manipulating us through CGI and an exciting soundtrack into marvelling at the destruction of our world.
Inexplicably, Aronofsky (for I lay the blame squarely at his feet, saving my pity for his hapless cast of mean-wellers who are gipped by a banal script and dreadful story) takes artistic licence too far and delivers an unequivocal mess of bad acting (Ray Winstone, playing Ray Winstone, descendant of the murderous Cain; Emma Watson reverting to crinkle-browed Hermione again) and cringe-making fantasy sequences of animals flocking to the ark that Noah intuits he must build, ASAP. Granted, Noah's dreams are nicely evoked, though his Holmes-like deduction of what The Creator wants of him is something that we, like his wife (an earnest, tear-and-snot-ridden Jennifer Connelly), must take his word for.
To be honest, it might have been OK were it not for the rock monsters. You heard me right. Following an introduction to Noah's backstory of descendancy, it goes all supernatural and superstrange as large talking creatures made of boulders - looking like something out of LOTR - are introduced into the Creation story as "The Watchers": Creatures whom The Creator made to look over humankind until it had behaved SO badly, He decided to just flood the world and start over.
But a planet-destroying deluge was presumably not enough for the narrative arc, so a revenge tale is built in so we have a human to hate, even though Noah is portrayed as morally reprehensible and dogmatic in his dedication to his "task", and everyone knows no-one likes religious dogma in their lead characters.
Honestly, at times you wonder if you are watching the film-makings of a deranged man.
The film may well offend Christians and non-Christians alike, simply because it doesn't do anyone's beliefs any justice.
It will offend cinephiles who are unable to suspend their horror at the shaky-cammed, gratingly loud, pseudo-mysticism of it all. And it will brass off the busy people who needed that two hours for something else. You can put me in with all three.
- Sunday Star Times