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Noah Movie Starring Russell Crowe gets mixed review by christian movie critics

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Published on Oct 21, 2013

'Noah' Movie Starring Russell Crowe gets mixed review by christian movie critics Darren Aronofksy 'fighting with studio' over Noah epic

Mixed reactions at test screenings for key demographics credited for wrangle over final cut of Biblical epic starring Russell Crowe as the ark-man

With a high-profile cast including Russell Crowe as everybody's favourite antediluvian patriarch, it has been billed as a blockbuster fantasy spectacular to resurrect the biblical epic for the 21st century. But Darren Aronofsky's Noah looks to be running into trouble after it emerged that the American auteur director of Black Swan and The Wrestler is embroiled in a fight for control of his ambitious new film with studio Paramount.

The problem, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is that the two key demographics identified by producers as critical to the box office office success of the film have both reacted negatively at test screenings. Christian viewers in Arizona did not much like it, possibly because the movie plays fast and loose with its biblical subject matter, and neither did Jewish film-goers in New York. A screening for the "general public" in Orange County, California, also produced "troubling reactions", and it is not clear whether Aronofsky has maintained his control over final cut.

The Requiem for a Dream director, for his part, is said to be nonplussed by the response at test screenings, and has no plans to shift away from the heavily special effects-laden take that he has wanted to make all along. "Darren is not made for studio films," a source with ties to the project told the Hollywood Reporter. "He's very dismissive. He doesn't care about [Paramount's] opinion."

Noah's costs have already ballooned beyond the project's initial $125m budget and Paramount admits the screening process may not yet be complete. Studio vice chairman Rob Moore told the Reporter that Noah was going through a "normal preview process" and the result would be "one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing". Continued Moore: "We're getting to a very good place, and we're getting there with Darren."

There have been rumblings of Christian discontent over Noah since October last year, when religious screenwriter Brian Godawa posted a script review titled "Darren Aronofsky's Noah: Environmentalist Wacko". However, the film received a thumbs up from viewers at a church conference in Texas in July, with a number of tweets suggesting a positive reception.

Christian film-goers' box office clout has been apparent since Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion of the Christ took a staggering $611m worldwide in 2004. However, Aronofsky is a very different, very singular type of film-maker. His psychological thriller Black Swan may have taken $329m worldwide and won an Oscar for Natalie Portman in 2010, but the director is equally known for his sprawling fantasy turkey The Fountain, a critically-derided vanity project that finally found its way into cinemas four years late in 2006 after a hugely-troubled production period. The final version was forced to reduce its budget from $70m to $40m and starred Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in place of Brad Pitt (who walked out a few days into filming in 2003) and Cate Blanchett.

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