(CNN) — Is it “Titanic” for the faithful?
“Noah,” starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky, opened in theaters today, and the critics have plenty to say about the epic. For the most part, it appears the critics appreciate the efforts of both Crowe and Aronofsky — who is best known for controversial films such as “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan” — even if they don’t think the pair quite pull it off.
Jordan Hoffman of Screen Crush says, “This film’s inscrutable oddness — and the willingness to take chances — brought me to a place that could not have predicted. During the film’s third act I had no idea how this movie was going to end. Seriously. Even more exciting, once the credits rolled, I had to spend some time to work out how I felt. In fact, I’m still thinking about it.”
“Dark” is how Nathan Adams of Film School Rejects describes the big-budget flick. “There’s a tension that runs through the whole film about who you should be rooting for, or if it’s even possible to root for anyone in this situation,” he writes. “Noah goes to such dark places over the course of the movie that it’s impossible to keep relating to him as a protagonist (sometimes to the point of comedy, intentional or otherwise), and it becomes necessary for the narrative to switch its viewpoint from character to character.”
The headline for Alonso Duralde’s review for The Wrap reads, “Darren Aronofsky’s biblical ‘Waterworld’ mostly runs aground.” Duralde says that “Unlike the thousands of CGI beasts of the land and air who hitch a ride on ‘Noah,’ Darren Aronofsky’s highly-anticipated epic is neither fish nor fowl; in no way is it a straightforward Bible tale (and given the brevity of Genesis’ account of the flood, such a thing would be next to impossible) nor is it the sort of unfettered freak-out that fans of ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Pi’ or ‘The Fountain’ would expect from its director and co-writer (with Ari Handel).”
HitFix’s Drew McWeeny writes that “Noah” “is not just one of the most ambitious films I’ve seen this year, it’s one of the most ambitious films I’ve ever seen. It’s a movie that is spilling over with ideas and images and emotional explorations of the metaphysical.”
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe says the film is “equal parts ridiculous and magnificent.” And while noting that Crowe “turns out to be perfectly cast in the title role,” Burr writes that “The parts of ‘Noah’ that don’t work really, truly don’t. But the parts that do almost sweep you away in the flood.”
As the Washington Post notes, the film has had its fair share of controversy, including complaints that there is a lack of mention of God in the film.
Post film critic Ann Hornaday calls it a slightly different take on the biblical story and writes, “The result is a movie that is clearly deeply respectful of its source material but also at times startlingly revisionist, a go-for-broke throwback to Hollywood biblical epics of yore that combines grandeur and grace, as well as a generous dollop of goofy overstatement.
“Viewers may not agree about what they’ve seen when they come out of ‘Noah,’ ” she said. “But there’s no doubt that Aronofsky has made an ambitious, serious, even visionary motion picture, whose super-sized popcorn-movie vernacular may occasionally submerge the story’s more reflective implications, but never drowns them entirely.”
Likewise, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone cautions, “My advice: Hold off on burning Aronofsky at the stake till you see Noah, a film of grit, grace and visual wonders that for all its tech-head modernity is built on a spiritual core. The Brooklyn-born Aronofsky and his Harvard roomie and writing partner, Ari Handel — ‘two not very religious Jewish guys,’ says the director — are hellbent on making their Noah relevant for believers and skeptics alike.”
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