It’s quite some transformation as Noah goes from the ridiculous to fairly nearly sublime across two and a quarter hours of epic and an awful lot of water.
At first, you’ll sit and wonder if you have ever seen anything quite so daft as the fallen angels who’ve been turned into rocky monsters by a vengeful Old Testament deity. With glowing innards faintly discernible, they rumble around like demented transformers from some silly toy/cartoon-inspired pseudo-scifi action adventure.
But Russell Crowe, with a face as stony as theirs as Noah, finds a way to their granite hearts when he announces that the Creator –never once given the G word – wants him to build an ark.
In an instant, the barren desert is alive with forest, all the raw material Noah needs for his boat-building project, to which the rocky monsters straightaway lend their tree-ripping and stripping skills – the point at which sleep or leaving the cinema seems the best option.
And then it all picks up impressively in the final hour.
There’s a strange little subplot in which Ray Winstone manages to get on board as a stowaway and starts nibbling away at the animals which otherwise are barely seen. Fortunately, meanwhile, a compelling drama is unfolding thanks to superb performances from Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife Naameh and Emma Watson as Ila, their adopted daughter.
Watson probably thought she was back in Potterland when the stone beasties were marauding, but once the boat’s afloat, the human finally takes over in a bitter stand-off with a Noah intent on killing her child if it’s a girl. Noah has got it into his head that the animals should survive, but that humanity really shouldn’t. Crowe is in full Gladiator/Robin Hood rugged stubborn mood... Only his wife’s and Ila’s humanity can save humankind, and here both actors tug at all the heartstrings compellingly, Watson giving the performance of her career.