The worst thing Darren Aronofsky could have done with Noah, his big-budget biblical epic, is to make it timid. The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the oldest in Western Civilization, and while the cutesy Sunday school version is digestible for kids, the story still deals with God’s wrath and the extinction of humanity. These ideas require confident direction, and Aronofsky rises to the task with a mix of action, awe, horror, vulnerability, and intellectual depth. Unlike The Fountain, Noah does not veer toward gorgeous folly territory, although Aronofsky’s ambition does get the better of him. This is an epic with purpose, one that will challenge and frighten the devout and non-believers alike.