Russell Crowe as Noah
Jennifer Connelly as Naameh
Ray Winstone as Tubal Cain
Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah
Emma Watson as Ila
Logan Lerman as Ham
Douglas Booth as Shem
Nick Nolte as Samyaza
Mark Margolis as Magog
Kevin Durand as Rameel
Leo McHugh Carroll as Japheth
Marton Csokas as Lamech
Madison Davenport as Na’el
Frank Langella as Og

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

The Biblical tale of Noah comes to life as a big screen epic, filtered through the auteur lens of Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Black Swan”).

What is a man if not his creed? What bearing do his beliefs have without faith? Is that faith separate from morality? Is that faith worth letting one’s family die? Is it worth letting the world die?

With his “Noah,” Darren Aronofsky offers a deeply philosophical take on the “Book of Genesis” story, setting the narrative against a surprisingly grounded allegorical fantasy world, replete with flaming swords, dark armies and fallen angels. Backed by the director’s flair for cinematic majesty and an intensely dramatic score by Clint Mansell, “Noah” plays, visually, like an art house “Lord of the Rings.” On beyond its massive scale, however, the true charm of Aronofsky’s biggest film to date lies in its humanity.

The characters of “Noah” are cleverly defined by their respective relationships with their faith. Russell Crowe’s title hero is a virtuous, spiritual man, loyal to God, but also burdened by the tremendous — at times, horrific — task to which he has been appointed. Aronofsky finds an appropriate antagonist in Ray Winstone’s Tubal Cain who is, for all intents and purposes, a Godless reflection of Noah, who, in the absence of faith, serves only himself. Despite Cain’s villainy, his character still embodies the film’s ultimate example of free will.

Aronofsky develops “Noah” as a treatise on the duality of man, using the film’s supporting cast (primarily Noah’s family) to explore the often contradictory balance between innocence and conviction, necessity and desire and nature and the divine. The animals are there, to be certain, but they’re less of a plot point and more of a symbol, representing a kind of harmonious purity to which man, responsible for his own original sin, can only aspire.

One particularly breathtaking sequence adapts the opening lines of “Genesis” with astonishing visuals that very much point out that science and religious conviction need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, “Noah” targets neither devout nor secular audiences, specifically, making its first duty to promote intelligent discussion that can — and should — exist between those two extremes.

The Bottom Line:
The tragedy of “Noah” as a film is that the scope of its ideology is so inclusive that audiences run the risk of only taking out of it what they brought in with them. It has as much potential to offend the devoutly pious as it does to turn away staunch atheists. For those with an open mind, however, “Noah” is an entertaining, thought-provoking delight that is destined to be remembered and meditated upon by cinephiles for a long, long time to come.