A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this epic tale from director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) takes on a character of biblical proportions, Noah. As befits the mayhem recounted in the bible, Noah is filled with catastrophe. The skies rain down from the heavens, drowning nearly everything, and humans are nearly feral as they battle each other for survival. There's no real swearing, just the word "damned," but plenty of brutality and gore: mountains of dead bodies are shown, sometimes close up, humans beat each other to death, sometimes with rocks, knives and spears.
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What's the story?
Russell Crowe plays Noah, a descendant from the line of Seth, son of Adam and Eve, who's beset by visions that reveal God's plan for the future: a devastating flood that will wipe out humans and help the remaining beings, including a pair of each animal roaming the earth, start over. But first he must build an ark, one that can withstand the assault of a massive flood, as well as the humans who want a place on the ark even if Noah doesn't want them in it. He must also struggle to make real God's plan while balancing his God-given ability to make choices. Meantime, his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson), struggle to be by Noah's side, even as they balance their own needs and doubts about Noah's big plan. All this, as Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) vies with Noah for supremacy -- and the ark.
Is it any good?
NOAH is a feat of filmmaking. Every frame, every angle, every shift speaks to the able hands of director Darren Aronofsky. It's a dark and gloomy version of the Biblical tale told here: Noah is tortured -- yes, tortured -- by his visions, not always at peace with the mission God sends his way. Anyone expecting an uplifting version about a man of deep faith heeding his Creator will be disappointed. Yes, Noah heeds. But he does so with plenty of doubts about his and his family's worthiness to survive, a complex and unnerving concept that some young teens may grapple to understand. This Noah doesn't pull its punches.
The film's laden with special effects, most of which is deployed in a way that serves the story. But some audiences may balk at the Watchers, hulking beings made of stone and gifted with Herculean strength that look like they belong in a Star Wars movie, not a Biblical epic. (Also, not sure these beings appear as they do in the Bible's text, one of many parts of the movie that could incite debate.) The film's mid-section feels paunchy and a little plodding, and the music gravitates toward ponderous. All this to say it's imperfect, but its epic sweep and grandeur deserves an audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: March 28, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: July 29, 2014
- Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson
- Director: Darren Aronofsky
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, History
- Run time: 138 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.