I've been wary of Darren Aronofsky ever since his amazingly wayward movie The Fountain. But Black Swan was excellent and now his latest Noah is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Working with his regular screenwriting partner Ari Handel, Aronofsky has jettisoned the conventional Christian framework of the Noah story (good work guys) and opted for a fantasy approach.
This means, for instance, that there are fallen angels called the Watchers who look like Transformers made of chunky rock fragments.
When I saw these ungainly galoots I thought the movie was in deep trouble. But I was wrong, and elsewhere the CGI effects (as when the animals come into the ark) are magnificent.
So is the acting. Ray Winstone is breathtaking as the descendant of Cain who is the chief bad guy in the movie and represents the evil in humanity which has despoiled the Earth and which the coming flood is specifically designed to get rid of. And Russell Crowe as Noah has never been better.
The script is remarkably good. Despite ladling on special effects, spectacle and battle, Aronofsky and Handel understand that the essence of the film is human and simple — Noah's son Ham being torn between the charismatically evil Winstone character and loyalty to his father.
Noah is specifically designed as a powerful ecological parable about how we are destroying the world through exploitation, pollution and climate change.
In the movie the animals are the good guys — Noah and his family are vegetarians, Ray Winstone's mob are meat eaters — and the most emotionally forceful and profound moments of the film concern Noah's tormented attempts to decide whether humanity should be allowed to survive the floods at all — or whether we should just leave the world to the animals, who won't screw it up.
A great movie, and an important one.
(All the images are from Ace Show Biz.)