Trailer Tuesday: Noah

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be endlessly fascinating.

I had almost forgotten that writer/director Darren Aronofsky was making a film version of the Noah story until I saw this trailer on the big screen.  After having seen the trailer twice in the theater and several times online I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it.  Take a look for yourself below, and read on for my thoughts:

I have to say I have mixed feelings about the works of Darren Aronofsky.  I think Requiem for a Dream is a masterpiece, but his subsequent works have left me cold.  I thought The Fountain was dull, The Wrestler was infuriating to watch, and Black Swan was intriguing and well acted but just didn’t do a whole lot for me.  And it’s kind of sad because I was excited for each of those films beforehand (for the record, I’ve never seen Pi).  So I’m a bit dubious for Noah.

We’re a long way from the Biblical epics of the 30s, 40s and 50s, when the Bible served as a perfect setting for the film sensibilities of the time.  Recently we’ve seen an upswing in adaptations of Biblical stories, starting with The Passion of the Christ all the way up through the recent miniseries, The Bible.  However, I don’t recall ever having seen a film that focused exclusively on the story of Noah.  Of course, Aronofsky seems to have taken a fair amount of liberties with the story (which is generally necessary with any text-to-screen adaptation).

The cast is certainly intriguing.  I think Russell Crowe is well suited for this sort of film, and of course Anthony Hopkins is always welcome as a rough but wise grandfather-type.  I’m not sure what Ray Winstone’s role is here, though he seems to be embodying the aspects of humanity that God is setting out to destroy (his character is identified as “Tubal-cain, Noah’s nemesis” on Wikipedia but a quick check of the Bible doesn’t exactly support such a character).  And then there’s Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife and Emma Watson as his (adopted?) daughter.  I’m a big fan of both actresses, and I’m glad to see Emma Watson getting roles in big movies next to big talent where she belongs, but in Noah they certainly look like the two prettiest and cleanest human beings in the Old Testament.  Their styling is more than a little jarring next to Crowe, Hopkins and Winstone.

Where I really struggle with this trailer is the design of the film.  I’m all for a “realistic” take on the material, trying to imagine what it might have been like building such a massive creation, and the box-like ark is certainly a far cry from the happy boat that so often adorns nurseries.  However, the effects leave a lot to be desired.  They look about two or three visual effects generations old.  I’m hoping that they’re just early work and that they are still polishing the pairs of animals as we speak, because otherwise I think too much of their reported $130 million budget was spent on sets and actors.  I’ve watched enough of the “classic” Biblical epics to be of the opinion that films of this scale really need to wow the audience, and I feel like Noah has a lot of work to do to get to that point.

Despite all of that, I’m still intrigued.  I can’t say I’m excited about the film’s prospects, but I’m definitely curious how it will turn out.  I’ll probably see it unless its release window at the end of March is just too crowded for me to get around to it, but I won’t be lining up on day 1 for it.  I’d like to support Emma Watson if nothing else, however.

What do you think?  Did Noah strike your interest, or will you pass?  What do you think of the trailer’s interpretation of the Noah story?  How about the cast?  Do you agree that the effects need work?  What’s your favorite Biblical movie?  What’s your favorite Darren Aronofsky movie?  Let me know in the comments!

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