Noah (Blu-ray)

July 21, 2014 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve never been much of the church-going type, but I think it’s safe to say that almost every person in the world has heard the story of Noah and his ark. From the book of Genesis, God saved Noah, his family and a remnant of all the world’s animals from the great flood. Now I won’t turn this review into a Theology lesson, so we’ll just leave that alone. But there is some element that does amaze me about the entire story. So when I’d heard that Darren Aronofsky was going to helm the story of Noah and his ark and it would star Russell Crowe, well, that’s enough to raise an eyebrow.  I’d been a fan of Aronofsky since his debut film, Pi, back in 1998. Sine then, he’s made only a handful of films, but all have been memorable in their own right. Possibly one of the most disturbing was 2001’s Requiem for a Dream. Of course two of his recent works have been noticed by the Academy with Mickey Rourke being nominated for The Wrestler and Natalie Portman (aka “Mrs. Aronofsky”) winning Best Actress for her work in Black Swan. Having seen all of Aronofsky’s previous films, I was a bit curious to see how he’d handle the story of Noah. Let us begin.

First and foremost, Noah is not a factual retelling of what happened in the book of Genesis. As one reviewer noted, “…Noah is the book of Genesis with a page one rewrite…” and that’s about the best way to describe it. Elements of all versions of the story seem to make an appearance. However as we’re introduced to the story, we learn of the story of Cain and Abel as well as the brother Seth. Cain killed Abel and the descendants of the two brothers have waged war against one another. The descendants of Cain have aligned themselves with the “Watchers”, fallen angels from heaven who are now encrusted in magma. We meet Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family with wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly, re-teaming with Crowe from 2002’s A Beautiful Mind) as well as his sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll); as well as Ila (Emma Watson), an adopted member of the family. We see the struggle, the creation (and later the destruction) of life as we know it and, of course, the construction of the ark as given precise instructions by “The Creator” (to my recollection the word “God” was never used in the film and only referenced by the aforementioned name). There are floods, animals and everything in between and it’s quite the experience to watch it.

I went into Noah with somewhat of a negative attitude after my wife and her mother had seen in in theaters (for a convenient Easter release, kudos to Paramount’s marketing department) and they’d come back with mixed reviews. Knowing it’d be a few months before the Blu-ray arrived, I didn’t really give it much thought but when the day finally arrived, it arrived in style. Paramount sent the film in an actual wooden ark with the word “Noah” burnt into the side. After a few minutes I was intrigued and when the ending credits rolled, I have to say that I was genuinely impressed. I think in less capable hands this could have been a disaster, but I really enjoyed the film. Aronofsky has sculpted something that’s memorable, but yet tasteful and elegant at the same time.  Of course, the multitude of capable actors didn’t hurt with Crowe and Connelly leading the way, there’s also Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson and Nick Nolte just to name a few. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission and if you’re a fan of Aronofsky’s The Fountain, you’ll have an inkling as what to expect. Highly recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

Noah has arrived on Blu-ray sporting a reference-quality 1.85:1 AVC HD image. Like some other films in recent years, Noah uses a variety of sources for the film. The opening sequence is animated as are some scenes in the film, though the lion’s share of the film is live action.  Truthfully, there’s nothing I could really find to complain about here. I’d expected the film to be on a wider scale, but I’m sure that there were reasons for the flat aspect ratio. Still, the CGI is amazing, the “Watchers” look utterly realistic and the detail is second to none. We can see every gray whisker in Crowe’s beard, signs of actual aging from Jennifer Connelley and everything in between. Even with its robust running time of  137 minutes, the film’s visual quality isn’t compromised in the least. This is one to show off the HDTV with, folks as they’ve done it right.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is, in all truth, one of the best I’ve heard in quite some time. I think Pacific Rim was the last one that really made me turn around and say “Wow.” This is actually a 7.1 mix and I assure you that each and every channel is used and used efficiently. Vocals sound rich and thick, the “Watchers” voices seem to resonate through the surrounds and the flood scene is, well, on par with some of the best elements of surround sound that I’ve ever heard. I could go on and on, but I think the point has been made – this is an amazing sounding movie and one that won’t disappoint.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Paramount sent Noah to me encased in a wooden ark that housed the Blu-ray. Granted I realize that’s not an option that’s available in stores, but I figured I’d mention it nonetheless. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot to choose from, but those that are included are rather informative.

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Iceland: Extreme Beauty – There aren’t many places on Earth that have the stunning, awe-inspiring beauty that Iceland has and with this featurette, we get a look at some of the locales used in the film as well as some behind the scenes footage from the set.
  • The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits – This contains more footage of Iceland, but as the title suggests, this one pays particular attention to the actual construction of the ark as well as the film’s final scene.
  • The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two – While this doesn’t pertain to the animals, per se, we do get a little more insight into the ark and some of the elements that made the scenes/film work so well.

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