Noah (Russell Crowe) lives with his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and three children in lands devoid of agriculture and animals. He begins having visions and nightmares of a terrible flood that he expects will come soon. “The waters of the heavens will meet the waters of the earth,” he tells his family. “We build an ark.” With that declaration and belief that he is fulfilling the Creator’s wishes, he gets to work with the help from creatures called Watchers, which look like cheap Ray Harryhausen knockoffs and are voiced by the likes of Frank Langella and Nick Nolte.
The text of the story of Noah isn’t all that long and so screenwriters Aronofsky and Ari Handel have taken some liberties. That’s understandable (although their straying from the source material will likely upset churchgoers), but where it really hurts the movie is in how much it lengthens the runtime. This is a story that could be told as a small portion of a Book of Genesis miniseries, but has instead been stretched out to nearly two and a half hours, perhaps because Aronofsky felt, like many before him, that a biblical story needs to be told as an epic.
NOAH has some strong aspects to it, such as its never really feeling like a biblical epic and its overall desire not to imitate one (outside of the aforementioned runtime), as well as its respectably fleshing out the characters and adding dimension to Noah and his family, all of which work to the movie’s advantage. What don’t benefit, though, are the tedious pace, the often hokey special effects, the unnecessary battle sequence (which allows Crowe to throw spears) and the occasionally over-the-top performances, all of which are negatives that greatly outweigh the positives.
The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits (19:46) also focuses on locations, with the focus shifted to Oyster Bay, New York, where the ark was constructed. This piece shows the level of work that went into being as accurate as possible in making the massive boat.
The Ark Interior: Animals Two By Two (19:55): This is something of a companion piece to the previous featurette, as it also details the efforts put into creating the enormous set. Like “A Battle for 300 Cubits,” it includes interview snippets and solid behind-the-scenes footage.