'Noah' May Well Come Out On Top This Weekend, & Here's Why

When I first saw the trailer for Noah , I reacted about the same way I did upon discovery of the Santa-Claus-turned-Viking script Winter's Knight : with a spit take and a few minutes of incredulous laughter. Set to open tomorrow, the two-plus hour epic, which stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and an all-growed-up Emma Watson, is apparently exactly what it sounds like — that is, a recreation of the biblical tale of The Flood and the eponymous hero whose ark saved the animal kingdom from it, two by two. (Okay, following further research, I'm told Crowe is only tasked with saving human lives — but still.) However, Noah is apparently no joke to industry insiders: Early reviews are enough to knock it up to 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Entertainment Weekly's Lindsay Bahr reports that it will likely rule the weekend box office with ticket sales over $30 million.

Indeed, the film seems pretty well poised to bring crowds, tapping into both the secular audience with its star-studded cast and the devout with its Biblical premise — doubling down on the more plainly religious fare we've seen lately, such as last weekend's indie release God's Not Dead and last month's Son of God, which opened with a surprisingly strong $25.6 million weekend. Still, there's some controversy to be had regarding the film's fidelity (or lack thereof) to the biblical story: Though Crowe has defended the film's "artistic license," USA Today reports that Noah has already been banned in Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates for its liberties.

Personally, I'm more interested in the film's director: Darren Aronofsky, famous for Requiem for a Dream and, more recently, Black Swan. If those credits are any indication, this biblical epic seems a little out of his wheelhouse. For example, in his debut feature, Pi, Aronofsky turned the world's tiniest premise — a man dangerously obsessed with math — into a surreal and disturbing adventure, a feat he pulled off again by making a ballerina's paranoia vividly suspenseful in Black Swan. In a way, it's exciting to see him handed such epic material, with $125 million of special effects and giant floods at his disposal, but it also makes you long for the days when he orchestrated an entire epic within the walls of a fleabag Chinatown apartment.

For my part, were I not so cosmically broke, I would perhaps head to the theaters based on that curiosity alone — but then again, I'm almost 100% positive I would spend the entire movie cracking up thinking about Eddie Izzard's ark routine, longing for speedboats and Sean Connery. Hopefully, Crowe can at least live up to that.