Russell Crowe gives a solid performance as Noah in the Biblical epic now in theaters.

Russell Crowe gives a solid performance as Noah in the Biblical epic now in theaters.

Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” surpasses all previous Biblical epics largely because he sizes down the story to its most human elements without losing a sense of scale thanks to modern computer-generated imagery.

Films like Cecil B. DeMille 1956 epic “The Ten Commandments” also laid claim to new technology for its time. It was shot in the new VistaVision color by Technicolor.

But the movie and those before it always had an element of camp because the special effects where so obviously fake. Not so for “Noah.”

“Noah” gets its power from such scenes as the horrendous downpour and the storm-ravaged sea that tossed the ark like a cork and the massively scaled battle scenes.

The ark itself is a feature of technical magic. It looks seamlessly real both on a micro and macro level.

Because Noah is such a well known Biblical tale, the story really comes down to the telling. Everyone who enters the theater knows exactly how it will end. But the magic is in the journey. And, this film is magical.

Aronofsky’s decision to put Noah under the microscope succeeds because of Russell Crowe’s superb performance. The story is intensely human drama and could probably succeed even without the special effects.

It doesn’t hurt that Noah is also viewed through a contemporary lens.

The story line echoes themes of ecological disaster, which gives the movie some relevance for those who aren’t religious and don’t buy into the literal interpretation of the tale.

It’s a story about good versus evil, but also about the struggle within one man’s soul, notes AP critic Jocelyn Noveck.

From his experience with “Black Swan,” for which Natalie Portman won an Academy Award, Aronofsky knows how to tell an intense psychological thriller. And “Noah” contains many of the same elements.

When survivalism is considered a lifestyle these days, and doomsday preppers have their own reality show, Noah, the ultimate survivalist, has a special relevance.

The nice thing about the film is that you can engage it at many different levels, whether it’s strictly as a Biblical tale, or simply an entertaining disaster movie. but at the very least, the special effects will leave you feeling satisfied.

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