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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Movie review by Rashid Irani: Russell Crowe is the show-stopper in Noah

Rashid Irani, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 29, 2014
First Published: 01:21 IST(29/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:09 IST(29/3/2014)

Direction: Darren Aronofsky 
Actors: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
Rating: ***

Once upon a time Hollywood would be exceedingly faithful to the scriptures, fearing a backlash from the devout, besides asking for trouble in terms of ticket sales.  As a result, films like John Huston’s The Bible turned out to be uninspired. Later, it would seem some radical chic was demanded (Jesus Christ Superstar) and the unapologetically irreverent (The Last Temptation of Christ).

Now Noah, directed by the flashy technocrat Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), takes the disaster genre route. Here then is the mother of all save the world movies, or at least the good and virtuous part of it, seen through the prism of a chapter of the Bible that’s often been retold as an entertainer for kids.

Aronosky seeks to appeal to an infinitely larger audience and does command our interest with muscular action sequences, emotionally stirring interludes, not to forget the eco-friendly subtext.

Sure, interpretations to suit a post-new-millennium audience were warranted.  Occasionally deviating from Biblical plotlines, Noah (Crowe), his wife (Connelly) and their three sons combat the approaching apocalypse and a violent tribe of warriors popping out of a forest of Shakespearean proportions. The animals which were saved by Noah’s ark are made subservient, hopping on board to sleep soundlessly for the rest of the way.

The script also makes way for a sage (Anthony Hopkins) and the fantastical creatures mentioned in passing in the Bible have a lengthier role to play.  The direction is accompanied by speedy cutting and a bombastic music score.  While the cinematography is efficient, the dialogue tends to get a bit theatrical. 

Russell Crowe is the show-stopper. He’s in form instead of wearing the sneer-and-smirk expression which he has adopted of late. Certainly worth a watch but not for those who want to go strictly by the Book.

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