Noah (12A) ***

David Calder as Julius Caesar in the play of the same name at The Bridge Theatre. Picture by Manuel Harlan

Beware the Ides of March, but enjoy this screening

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The story of Noah and his three sons unfolds across six chapters of the book of Genesis.

Director Darren Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel expand this lesson into a sprawling narrative about one man’s tireless quest to save innocent animals from the apocalypse.

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe in Noah

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe in Noah

This Noah is both a parable about self-sacrifice and a bombastic spectacle replete with computer-generated battle scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth.

‘In the beginning there was nothing,’ booms an opening voiceover, condensing the fall of Adam And Eve and blood spilt between Cain and Abel into a mosaic of haunting images.

While the descendants of Cain spread greed and wickedness, the descendants of Seth – Cain’s surviving brother – work the land, taking only what they need. The last of this righteous bloodline, Noah (Russell Crowe), lives with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll).

One night, Noah experiences a vision of a devastating flood.

‘All life blotted out because of what man has done,’ laments the father, and he accepts his task to build an ark capable of temporarily housing one pair of ‘all that creeps, all that crawls, all that slithers’.

Noah is fascinating yet flawed. Quieter, thoughtful sections of the film, when Noah wrestles with his destiny, beg provocative questions about devotion to a higher power including an extraordinary scene of attempted infanticide.

Crowe delivers a compelling central performance as a humble man, who accepts his own frailties.

Regrettably, Aronofsky also has to recoup a hefty budget so he punctuates his characters’ emotional rollercoaster with bombastic action sequences that are as soulless as they are spectacular.

When the pivotal deluge finally comes, it’s a tour-de-force of visual effects and swooping camerawork that is over in a matter of minutes.