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Will Russell Crowe's 'Noah' Be Great or An Overwrought Disaster?

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Dec 05, 2013 | 8:00am EST

Russell Crowe, NoahParamount Pictures

Russell Crowe is coming out with a new movie in 2014 called Noah. It's about the biblical story of the flooding of the Earth and the man who shepherded every type of animal onto a giant ark that was able to weather the waters. (Sorry, spoiler alert to anyone who hasn't seen or read a Bible in their lives.) Is it going to be a great movie or will this be one of those overwrought big budget films that ultimately wind up in the cheap DVD bins in a year or so?

People who point to the Charlton Heston portrayal as Moses seem to miss the point: he at least carried some biblical gravitas. When I look at Crowe, I tend to think of an action-movie type. (Yes, I know he was fantastic in The Insider and A Beautiful Mind.) But when I see him in an ancient time setting with his flowing beard, I think of him as Maximus from Gladiator. For some reason, I could imagine a scene in Noah where he stands at the bow of the ark, with all these animals (CGI, of course) surrounding him and he bellows, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!"

The thing that may present a REALLY big problem is that they embellished on this story and that may anger a LOT of Christians, who tend to view that as ... I'm trying to think of the word. It's right on the tip of my tongue. Oh yes. Blasphemous. That's it. There's a human nemesis for Noah to contend with as well ... as if the original huge waves, tons of animals in a cramped space and wicked angels wasn't enough of a challenge for one man, they had to add this extra thing that wasn't in the original source material. Hollywood sure loves to change stuff around, even with classics. Hey, you can ask Nathaniel Hawthorne. There might not be a hugely receptive audience and depending how this is presented, there might even be protests.

One thing that gives some hope is that the movie is directed by Darren Aronofsky, he of Black Swan fame. He's an excellent director. Add Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson and the movie is suddenly in good shape acting-wise. It depends which Crowe shows up. When he puts his mind to it, he's one of the best actors on the planet.

My prediction: It may start off well in the box office due to the curiosity factor, but then word-of-mouth will be the determining factor. It may continue raking in big dollars or it might tail off horribly like Godzilla did in the late '90s. Then we'll be monitoring the DVD racks.

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