For Aronofsky, Noah was, by his own admission, a passion project. Also, admittedly, he is a man known for his passion projects. Whether his breakout Pi, his brilliant, time-spanning The Fountain, or his equally impressive, Oscar winning Black Swan, as a writer and director he bleeds into his efforts. It is part of what makes his films such unique and amazing journeys both to and on screen.
But apocryphal and classic myths are hard nuts to crack… and the shell is still on this one. Aronofsky, who is typically a great storyteller, should have approached this one sideways (think the Tempest as depicted in Forbidden Planet). Telling the tale of Noah in earnest (and, oh my, is it in earnest) just didn’t work… especially as he embellished it to make it feel more like Noah the superhero or a new high fantasy, a la The Hobbit. In doing so, he lost both of his potential audiences.
One thing he did right: he created a story about the best and worst parts about those who believe on faith and how interpreting the will of a deity can be tricky at best. However, it is so laden with personal mythos and symbology (some of which felt rather contradictory) that the meaning remains somewhat obfuscated. He also managed to set up the story such that it had current relevance to our own ecological challenges. Of course, both of these aspects also turned off more traditional viewers who wanted something more akin to The Ten Commandments than Lord of the Rings.
Frankly, while beautifully filmed and competently acted, the story is too long to excuse the viewing. I hope Aronofsky has this out of his system so he can get back to the kinds of movies he does best. If you want to give it a shot, I won’t stop you, but you have been warned.