With all the hype surrounding Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah – religious groups denouncing it; widespread bans in the Middle East; numerous re-cuts and studio interference – just getting it into cinemas sounded like a big enough challenge. But the Black Swan director, who put his foot down and released the film he intended, is reaping the rewards with some glowing report cards. 

NoahRussell Crowe as the titular Noah

The film sees Russell Crowe play Noah, who sets about building a huge arc to survive the biblical flood coming to offer up punishment to a disobedient and spiteful Man. But the film doesn’t restrict itself to the text; delving into spirituality and action film tropes in equal measure – something the critics have picked up on and praised Aronofsky for. 

More: Darren Aronofsky: Noah to avoid cliché of Bible movies

“As much a fantasia inspired by the Old Testament as a literal retelling of that tale, "Noah" manages to blend the expected with the unexpected and does it with so much gusto and cinematic energy you won't want to divert your eyes from the screen,” wrote The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan.

A.A Dowd, in his review for The A.V Club, said: “At its best, the film gets by on its striking imagery, from a panorama of sickening human decadence to a mid-movie retelling of the creation story that might make Terrence Malick weep.”

Claudia Puid called Noah “A massively scaled undertaking, Noah is a bold re-telling with plenty of spectacle, undercut by its own sprawling ambitions, fantasy elements and formulaic villain,” in her review for USA Today.

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“There's so much delusion and so much delight in "Noah" that I have trouble distinguishing one from the other, or determining whether its most outlandish flourishes qualify as mistakes or as strokes of genius,” wrote Andrew O’Hehir for Salon.com.

Watch the extended trailer for Noah