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?
This film looks quite stunning in HD. There’s not a dull moment. The visuals are certainly strong, and it helps with such a solid transfer. There’s an early scene with Noah standing Naameh standing with a beautiful skyline behind them. The print has a nice smooth finish with no flaws to speak of. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio and will be a great demo disc to show off. This steel-book packaging is exclusive to best buy, but the discs are otherwise identical.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD also impresses, it’s one of the better tracks in recent memory. This is a very busy film with plenty of epic action scenes that will rattle the rooms and any and all furniture near by. Vocals were loud and crisp throughout as well. The flood scene is one of many examples of this track more than earning its keep. To put simply: You won’t be disappointed. This track accompanies the excellent transfer very well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Iceland: Extreme Beauty – This is the first of 3 features on the disc. This looks at some of the locals used in the film as well as behind the scenes footage.
- The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits – This shows more footage of Iceland, but also gives a look at building the Ark used in the film.
- The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two – This shows the Ark interior set as well as more behind the scenes footage.