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Noah attracts early positive reviews from US critics


Story by Jack Foley

CRITICS in the US have been praising Russell Crowe’s biblical epic Noah despite widespread scepticism in the run-up to its release.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the film is ‘inspired’ by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope and finds Crowe playing the central character, who is forced to build an Ark in a bid to save mankind.

The film co-stars Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins and Douglas Booth and opens in UK cinemas in April.

But early reviews from the US have been surprisingly positive. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy, for instance, wrote: “Darren Aronofsky wrestles one of scripture’s most primal stories to the ground and extracts something vital and audacious, while also pushing some aggressive environmentalism, in Noah.”

He adds: “Already banned in some Middle Eastern countries, Noah will rile some for the complete omission of the name “God” from the dialogue, others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time.

“But whether you buy these elements or not, this is still an arresting piece of filmmaking that has a shot at capturing a large international audience both for its fantasy-style spectacle and its fresh look at an elemental Bible story most often presented as a kiddie yarn.”

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Variety’s Scott Foundas, meanwhile, wrote that while the film is uneven, it’s an “undeniably bold, personal, visually extravagant take on the Old Testament tale”.

He continues: “Whatever comes of Noah, the film certainly ranks alongside The Great Gatsby and Gravity as one of the riskiest director-driven passion projects to be gambled on by today’s ever more cautious major studios. And if Aronofsky’s $130 million, 137-minute movie ultimately feels compromised at all, it’s less by studio interference than by its director’s own desire to make a metaphysical head movie that is also an accessible action blockbuster (where The Fountain tilted heavily toward the former).

Noah does not always sit easily astride those competing impulses, but it is never less than fascinating – and sometimes dazzling – in its ambitions.”

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Also in favour was Kathleen Parker, of The Washington Post, who opined: “If you liked Braveheart, Gladiator, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones or Titanic, you will like Noah. If you liked two or more of the above, you will love Noah.”

And US blog site Movieline said: “Magnificent. Truly epic in its scope and ambition. It stays with you long after you leave the theatre. This Noah is unlike any other film of its kind – an intimate and stirring new take on a biblical story we only thought we knew.”

Most critics have also praised Russell Crowe’s central performance as his best since Gladiator.

There were some negatives, however. Screen International felt that “Noah aspires to be a love story, a family drama, a war movie and a disaster film, but the different tones and genres aren’t successfully integrated”.

While indieWIRE wrote: “By turning the monolithic odyssey into a sword-and-sandals showdown with occasionally cosmic tangents, the 137-minute studio venture contains the glimmers of a truly visionary achievement flooded by half-baked ideas.”

Noah opens in UK cinemas on Friday, April 4, 2014.