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August 27, 2014
Noah Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
27/3/201427/8/2014ParamountDarren Aronofsky
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1MRussell Crowe

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Russell Crowe is impressive as Noah.

Director Darren Aronofsky has proven himself to be a master filmmaker with hits such as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Black Swan to his name. Now the filmmaker turns to his biggest project yet - Noah - which had a mammoth $US125 million budget, and Paramount backing the film although just prior to release the studio tested edited versions of the film without Aronofsky's permission before resorting to his original cut which is what we have here. The gamble paid off with the film making a phenomenal $US359 million at the box office.

The story of Noah's Ark is one loved, or at least known, the world over. One man, with a message from god, decides to build an ark to save the animals from a flood following 40 days or rain.

While Noah doesn't push the bounds of believability as far as something like the Steve Carrell starring comedy Evan Almighty, it's not far off with The Watchers (or who we like to refer as "Rock Transformers") in this film bringing too much of a "WTF" moment for us. I mean it's one thing to believe one guy can build an ark to carry two of every animal, but having 30 foot high rock creatures, or "Watchers" as they are known, just stretched the film beyond believable for us. In fact, when we saw them we totally had to reevaluate what we were about to experience. Realistic like The Passion of the Christ or The Ten Commandments this ain't...

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Now that's a big ark for a lot of animals.
As well as The Watchers there are a few other aspects of this film that will turn heads. Noah himself is a very complex character who isn't just good, nor pure evil, but sits somewhere in between with motives that we're pretty sure were never in the bible. Also Tubal-Cain, played by Ray Winstone, and his followers are a confusing element who seem hell-bent on killing Noah. But why? It seems like a way to bring some action to the film - and has a way too convenient impact late in the film.

For all my issues though Noah was still an enjoyable film with some wonderful acting across the board from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins and some gorgeous visuals from Industrial Light & Magic. We're not sure the film is worthy of repeat viewings, but if you have an open mind, and aren't looking for a literal, or realistic interpretation of the bible, then this is worth checking out.

Noah is presented on Blu-Ray in the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and it's an AVC MPEG-4 transfer that really shines with great clarity and fine detail even in the darker scenes and this is no doubt aided by the video bitrate that often sits above 30Mbps. Indeed Noah is a film that has some stunning production quality and attention to detail, as well as some gorgeous scenery that always looks pristine. Close up shots of faces look amazingly detailed with the smallest pores in ths skin and finest hairs or stubble remaining very sharp.

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Emma Watson is great in Noah.
We should also point out that Noah was released in some territories in 3D however we are only reviewing the 2D release, and as far as we can tell there is no 3D Blu-Ray release in Australia.

Paramount have lavished this release with an absolutely cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack (24-bit/48Khz) which is phenomenal from start to finish. Be it the wonderful orchestral score from long-time Aronofsky collaborator Clint Mansell, the wonderful effects with aggressive surround channel use or the crystal clear dialogue this is a film that provides a great audio experience. Sure, it's a lot more limited then action heavy films, but for what it is - that being a historical epic with a pretty massive storm - it's pretty impressive.

There are plenty of other languages on the disc including German, Spanish, French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes at 640kbps as well as an English Audio Description track also in the same format and bitrate. Naturally these aren't as dynamic as the primary lossless audio track, but they are pretty good. Subtitles are provided in Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish as well as an English for the Hearing Impared subtitle track. We sampled the English subtitles and they were accurate to the dialogue.

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Snakes... yar Noah could have left them behind!
We only received the single disc version of Noah on Blu-Ray, however there is a 2-disc version available (possibly exclusive to JB Hi-Fi) with the second disc containing a few more extras including "The Watchers", "Noah's Score" and "The Sounds of Noah" however the three extras contained on this disc are worth a look and pretty meaty in themselves.

Iceland: Extreme Beauty (20:40/HD): This is a pretty nice little featurette about filming in Iceland and the hardships (primarily weather and lighting) which the crew had to deal with on set.

The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits (19:46/HD): This second featurette looks at building of the ark (which took 3 months!) in New York's Oyster Bay and then shows some of the filming on the set. As well as some of the biggest rain sequences what was fascinating was that the filmmakers filmed the daytime battle scenes at night as it was easier to control the artificial lighting.

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Noah is a film sure to divide opinions.
The Ark Interior: Anomals Two By Two (19:55/HD): This third and final segment focuses on the interior of the ark, filming the internal sequences, and of course the animals.

What I was expecting from Noah isn't what I actually got, with a much more "unrealistic" representation of the biblical tale then I expected. That doesn't mean it isn't a decent, if flawed, film - it certainly has some stunning visuals, and great acting - but some people may be a little bewildered by this experience. Still, it's probably worth checking out at least once.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.