It's all aboard on At the Movies this week as Peter Travers highlights Darren Aronofsky's controversial new film Noah, which offers a unique interpretation of the classic biblical tale of the flood and Noah's ark.
As Travers notes, the director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream is not doing an exact recreation of the story from the Book of Genesis, which tells us essentially that God wanted to destroy the Earth to punish the wicked and that he instructed to Noah to build an ark and take two animals of every kind with him. There's nothing in the Bible, however, about what Noah was thinking during this tumultuous time – which is where Aronofsky steps in.
The film stars Russell Crowe as Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife, reuniting the two stars of A Beautiful Mind (though they also appeared together in Winter's Tale, which was so miserable Travers declines to acknowledge it); the movie also features Anthony Hopkins as Noah's father, and Harry Potter's Emma Watson as an orphan who falls in love with one of Noah's sons. Noah tracks the titular character's struggle to build his ship and stave off the angry hordes seeking shelter, and also includes a subplot in which a barren Watson is made fertile by Hopkins.
"This is not in any kind of scripture," Travers says. "This is somebody saying ,'What if any of this happened?' Did this bother me? It doesn't bother me at all."
Noah is heavily digital though, Travers notes, from throngs of animals to the out of control storm; Noah's ark, however, is real, built to scale in New York. Despite the myriad controversies surrounding the movie, whether they're religious or aesthetic, Travers is ready to weather that storm, and has plenty of praise for Aronofsky's interpretation.
"The look of this movie," he says, "the passion behind it, Russell Crowe's performance, which is really solid, everything that's going here in terms of the vision is something no movie enthusiasts, like I think you all are, would want to miss."