In Review

Noah – reviews of Aronofsky's 'astonishing' fantasy ark epic

Aronofsky's grand, poetic blockbuster brings new life to a familiar Bible story, say critics

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What you need to knowDarren Aronofsky's biblical fantasy epic Noah opens in UK cinemas today. The film directed and co-written by Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) is loosely based on the Bible story of Noah's Ark.

In Aronosfky's retelling of the story, Russell Crowe stars as Noah, a man who experiences a terrible vision and realises he must build a boat to rescue the world from a catastrophic flood brought about by the environmental destruction wrought by Cain's descendants. With Jennifer Connolly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins.

What the critics likeDarren Aronofsky's Noah is "a sharp, ambitious film that's far more than a straightforward re-telling of the biblical tale", says Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. This is a familiar story made newly poetic and strange with moments that are astonishing and wholly miraculous.

Aronofsky's heroically bloody-minded version of Noah is "stupendous", says Nigel Andrews in the Financial times. The film gives fresh life and grandeur to a story made tepid by centuries of Sunday Schooling and Crowe is tremendous.

This "sombre, powerful biblical epic" is a grimy, roughened Noah story, shot through with berserk grandeur, says in Andrew Pulver in The Guardian. The film looks a treat, and Crowe is just about the only actor who could have pulled off the necessary combination of intensity and machismo.

What they don't like In spite of the religious furore surrounding this film, Aronofsky "isn't offering an especially radical or debunking perspective on the Old Testament fable", says Geoffrey MacNab in The Independent. Instead the film tells the very familiar story of the Ark "in a solemn and portentous fashion" that seems inspired by Tolkien, Transformers and Cecil B DeMille and lacks any levity or mischief.

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