IF YOU BUILD IT: Crowe, as the titular hero in Aronofsky's version of the Biblical epic.
Of all the Bible's most heroic figures, Noah has always been something of an enigma. His incredible story gets its most compelling cinematic telling to date with Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky's electrifying vision of the Old Testament saga, spun with near-faithful adherence to the Biblical text and a stirring narrative laden with urgency and moments riddled with intensity.
Although the stunning cinematography and captivating imagery make sterling contributions to the film's overall success, it's strongest asset is easily the robust performance offered by Russell Crowe as the great ark-builder. From Gladiator's Maximus to the titular man of tights in Robin Hood, Crowe has long displayed a knack for inhabiting mythical characters and bringing them to life with raw masculine energy and a quiet air of decency. As Noah, he convincingly embodies the patriarch's diligence and thoughtfulness.
Summarized briefly, Noah embarks on an ark-building expedition after receiving a vision from God that the Earth would be destroyed by flood. And thus it came to pass. The arrival of the birds of the air and the beasts of the land to take their place in the ark, along with Noah's wife (a sublime Jennifer Connelly) and sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and other "innocents", yields one of the film's most visceral moments. The enormous floodwaters (the result of stellar CGI work, no doubt) bashing against the gigantic boat is quite another.
Noah also marks the long-awaited on-screen reunion of Crowe and Connelly nearly 14 years after they beautifully portrayed the Nashes in A Beautiful Mind. And by all accounts their chemistry is as palpable as ever. Anthony Hopkins, meantime, nabs a few scenes as Methuselah, Noah's grandfather.
In short, Aronofsky's Noah is a must-see cinematic event. It's deftly directed and stirringly told, and brings the popular Biblical saga to the big screen with ambitious storytelling and no shortage of stylistic daring. Tyrone's Verdict: A