Noah is flooded with artistic interpretation creating an inconsistent fantasy. Aronofsky is a visual auteur. One for infamously producing evocative imagery to convey the very essence of humanity. For him to helm the retelling of possibly one of the most well-known biblical narratives, well, it was always going to be divisive. He does not settle for simplicity, and with that he turned a stormy apocalyptic tale into a brooding family drama that frequently swims in shallow storytelling waters rather than deep ambiguous oceans. Noah is gifted with visions depicting the destruction of the world by the hand's of God. He is tasked with building an ark that will house Earth's wildlife once the planet has been reset from humanity's sinful destruction.
More often than not, people will give close-minded remarks such as "Noah's Ark but with stupid rock monsters". Whilst these golems do not necessarily make for a realistic interpretation, they do however shroud this story in a fantastical aura of prophecy and mysticism. Aronofsky takes the visualisation of Noah's tale and injects his own flair into it, by adding traits found in fantasy stories. Does it deter from the central story? Absolutely not. In fact I would be more inclined to state that it develops its themes even further. A barren wasteland covers the world due to humanity's neglect of God's creations (even if Aronofsky embeds scientific subtext within the religious readings). Deforestation, endlessly hunting wildlife to its extinction and the lust for omnipotence. The depiction of our own savagery is retained throughout, and makes for intriguing perspectives on creationism and the need for survival.
Having said that, Aronofsky unfortunately succumbs to heavy-handed storytelling that unknowingly spoon feeds its themes to the audience. Whether it be Noah and his family reflecting on the sins of humanity, or Aronofsky cutting to an artistic stylised montage (containing hundreds of still framed shots) depicting destruction. It leaves no room for imagination, which ultimately is a step back for a director who often relishes in ambiguity. I also take issue with the narrative structure, most notably the third act. The first two acts satisfyingly retell the story of Noah's Ark, emitting visual splendour in every scene. Once the storm hits and the focus is on the characters of Noah and his family, the tone seemingly shifts to a psychological drama. The blurred line between visionary miracles and paranoid delusions is strangely explored through Aronofsky's trademark third act mental instability, and it doesn't work for this story. It's a jarring tonal shift that detracts from the biblical teachings that the story exhumes.
Fortunately the performances from the main cast, especially Connelly and Crowe, were engaging enough to retain the pace during the third act. As someone who does not particularly find Winstone or Watson interesting, they both gave suitable performances even if the latter pretty much screamed her lines. The visual effects were delightful, the score was epic and the cinematography was frequently jaw-dropping.
One could say that this was an unusual project for Aronofsky to helm, but upon reflection it strangely suited him. Despite the harsh narrative execution and misdirected third act, it's a refreshing interpretation of a classic tale that showcases Aronofsky's luminary artistic style. Whether you are an individual of faith or not, we can all agree that Noah is better than 'Evan Almighty'...