There are no shortage of big-budget blockbusters hitting theaters next year, but squeezed between 300: Rise of an Empire and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fascinating outlier: Darren Aronofsky's Noah. The film retells the familiar Bible story of Noah (Russell Crowe), a man who builds an ark on God's instructions in order to survive a great flood that destroys the Earth.
"My father said that one day, if man continued in his ways, the creator would annihilate this world," says Anthony Hopkins to Crowe's Noah in the trailer. "He speaks to you. You must trust that he speaks in a way you can understand." As you may recall from Sunday School, God tells Noah to build an ark, saving his family and two of every animal, despite the skepticism and rage of the people around him. "Is this the end of everything?" asks Noah's daughter Ila (Emma Watson). "The beginning. The beginning of everything," replies Noah.
Noah, which reportedly cost around $125 million to produce, is a huge gamble for Paramount, and it's unlikely that Aronofsky would have been given the chance to make it without the massive success of Black Swan. There can be big, big money in Christian-oriented films — Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ remains the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time by a considerable margin, far ahead of hits like The Matrix Reloaded and The Hangover. But early screenings of Noah have reportedly produced "worrisome results," and led to infighting about the movie's final cut. In this age of sequels and reboots, it's refreshing to see a studio blockbuster that takes some genuine risks — but we won't know if the gamble paid off until Noah hits theaters in March 2014.