* * 1/2
Aronofsky's interpretation of Noah, the Ark and religion is so left of field, I feel like I just watched two hours of Old Testament as interpreted by a committee of fantastical liars, each trying to top the one who spoke before. At the same time, this plays like a vision compromised by studio interference. Admit it, if you were to learn the rock golems were a demand by the studios to aim for a wider audience it would not be surprising. When these graphite warriors take on the followers of Cain in an epic battle, it was like something out of a pre-machine age Transformers film.
So is Noah truly the vision of one artist, who talked a studio into giving him 100+ million to execute it? The cynic in me thinks not. He couldn't get more than 30 million for The Fountain, and that one's actually more centered and less wishy-washy in its philosophy. Noah gets much more head-scratchy and silly in places. As Noah goes insane, like all Aronofsky leads must, there comes from his wife much wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Jennifer Connelly here matches the heightened melodrama of Winona Ryder in Black Swan.)
I see Aronofsky's take on Noah not as a passion project, but a logic problem that he worked on for years. How to satisfy the needs of the text, and interpretations of that text, and the demands of a studio. Once he had a solution, his desire to execute it could easily be mistaken for passion, but it's more a continuation of this question. Can he tell a Noah story to satisfy everyone?
Right in the middle, Noah tells the story of creation. It's a brilliantly executed sequence of flash images showing the evolution of the animal species. The images blend until we get ape and then there's the leap to Adam and Eve, conspicuously not connected to this chain. Yet aside from a basic shape, they don't look like us, but like a glowing alien from another world. This is a perfect example of the blend of compromises needed to get the job done, which I think will satisfy few beyond a limited degree - it just left me going WTF? the whole ride - but it sure is interesting to watch.