Art & Culture

What a strange film. Why did Darren Aronovskvy decide to make it? What message is he hoping to convey? Why did the studio (Paramount/Sony) decide to finance it? What audience is it aimed at? What will Christians make of it? So many questions.

Speaking personally, I would say that however much it cost, the money was wasted. Somehow the film manages to fall between several stools simultaneously. It's not that Christian, not especially faithful to the Bible, and if it's intended to be an eco-warrior film (and I think it is), then it fails to deliver.

We start in one of those barren landscapes that films love, with a child and his father. He's about to be manned up, but a bad man comes along and kills his dad. Some years later, a grown up Noah (Russell Crowe) has three sons of his own, and is living a life of environmental care and kindness, although the rest of the world is living in a kind of Mordor of industrial destruction. No details are shown, but it sounds like Port Talbot times 20.

Further fast forward, and Noah, wife (Jennifer Connelly) and 2 sons now grown up and one teenager, plus young woman rescued from death (Emma Watson) are building an ark, on the instructions of the Creator (the name of god is never used, but the Creator is still a 'he'). They are looked after and assisted by The Watchers, rather badly designed stone version of Ents (see Lord Of The Rings) and menaced by Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) and a horde of sinners who are all about to be washed away for failing to recycle properly.

Ham, (Son 2) is concerned that Shem (Son 1) has a girlfriend, but he doesn't. This despite the fact that Ila (Emma Watson's character) can't have children. Meanwhile Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), Noah's grandfather, live sin a cave, dispensing wisdom and wanting berries (don't ask). Tubla-Cain wants the ark, and is prepared to do anything to get it. Hasn't he seen Gladiator? Even 12 years later, Russell Crowe is still seriously hard and the only Hollywood A lister who could do Biblical prophet without appearing risible.

Anyway, the ark is launched, complete with all manner of species. In fact this part of the plot is a bit of a letdown. They all swarm in in full CGI, but are then put to sleep by the smoke from some unspecified herbs. This saves feeding them or worrying about fights breaking out, but also means they play no part in the drama, which is mainly centred around a father/son dispute of rather tenuous significance.

In fact this is the trouble with the film; there's no real tension or uncertainty. We know Noah will build the ark, fill the ark, and survive to tell the tale, otherwise how would we be here to watch the film. The CGI is all very well, but it fails to inspire or impress. The dream sequences which are intended to signify Noah's conversations with The Creator are a bit of a non event, so we are left with Russell becoming increasingly pig-headed about the end of mankind as we know it, and a lack of anything resembling a decent plot.

And still no understanding as to what the point of the film is. The Save The Earth message is muted, the Christianity won't satisfy fundamentalists and The Watchers are an embarrassing mistake. Who's going to want to see it? Not many people, I suspect.