Darren Aronofsky's Noah is much like the religion it takes it's source material from: strangely beautiful and full of wonder, but deeply problematic if spend too much time on the details.
The story of Noah is one that probably everyone knows. Commanded by God, Noah builds an ark to save two of every species on Earth to save them from the coming flood. Never named as the big G in the film, the Creator, has weighed and measured the human race and found it lacking, so he's going to flip the table and start over again.
Noah does not lack in spectacle. The film is a vision to look at. Sweeping views of barren landscapes eventually giving way to the small paradise in which Noah builds his ark. Often people think of the ark as an actual boat, but the one shown here I believe to be far more accurate to the story and what might have been contructed - a waterproof floating box. And as they build it and as the beasts arrive in waves, it is just short of breathtaking.
And since a movie cannot simply be about a single man's moral conviction and internal struggle, a king, a descendant of Cain, arrives with his dozens that eventually become hundreds, and thousands, seeking passage upon the ark. By force if neccessary. Ray Winstone plays this villain well. In fact, all the performances in Noah are very good.
I was particularly fond of the story of the fallen angels, which I know many religious folks found to be the worst part of the film. But their story, their plight, and their redemption we, by far, my favorite piece of thoe whole movie.
If I had my way, Noah would be about 15 to 20 minutes shorter than the film I watched. There is some naration at the beginning I would remove, a bit of a scene in the ark after the flood has taken the world (or most of it), and a chunk at the end. These parts are the bits that I said at the start were deeply problematic if you spend to much time on them.
You see, God created everything, and in the garden he created Adam and Eve. They ate the fruit and were banished from the garden. They had three sons: Cain, Able, and Seth. Cain kills Able and then becomes the father of all of humanity, except for the small bloodline of Seth. Have you seen the problem yet? Two parents. Three sons. Where does the rest of humanity come from?
And then, after the flood, there are two of every animal, and there are eight people. Noah, Naamah his wife, their sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Ila the girl they save on their way to build the ark who marries Shem and gives him twin daughters. And from this family will spring all of humanity. A similar problem to before.
Personally, I've always taken the Bible more as parables, told to get across points and to teach, but not to be taken as a literal truth of exactly what happened. Because there are times, like the two listed above, where taken as literal truth - which they never actually state but imply strong through there being no other possible option - the tales become a problem. And so, in order to enjoy Noah, I have to take it as a parable, and accept that certain things in this film are not accurate, like who two boys birth all of humanity when the only woman around is their mother, or how four men repopulate the Earth with the help of four women, three of which are blood relatives. If I waive away those things, if I could somehow forget what I've seen and deducted, Noah goes back to being a fabulous spectacle. Seriously, the fallen angels are the best part of the film.
The Blu-ray contains a few extras, one about the filming location in Iceland, and two about filming both outside the ark and inside the ark. These were fairly interesting if you care about how films get made or if you are only interested in the spectacle of the film and not the religious ramafications of the tale.