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Predictably Dull

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Creation supposedly chronicles the creation of Charles Darwin's momentous "The Origin of Species." Unfortunately, this version is decidedly watered down.

Those wishing for a deep, scientific meditation on how Darwin came to change the course of human history will be sorely disappointed. Instead, audiences are shown the personal struggles Darwin went through to complete his masterpiece, namely, recovering from the death of his daughter and the resistance of his devoutly religious wife, Emma. Focusing on Darwin's personal demons doesn't immediately disqualify the film from succeeding, but it takes an extraordinary story and puts it in familiar territory.

Perhaps the intention is to portray Darwin as the human he was — he had a family to provide for and beliefs to overcome. Yet, despite the film's attempts to reconcile Charles Darwin the scientist and Charles Darwin the man, it follows a slow, clichéd timeline that does little to embellish on the ending we all know is coming.

If there's any reason to see Creation, it’s Paul Bettany. Criminally underrated in cinema — perhaps due to poor decisions like Inkheart and Wimbledon — he is the bright center of an otherwise dull film. It's Director Jon Amiel who can be blamed for that. His last film was 2003's completely forgettable The Core and his last "success" was 1999's Entrapment. But he shouldn't be judged on past digressions.

Creation is undoubtedly in a different realm from Amiel’s previous films, but it attempts to be too much. What wants to be an emotional epic tearing at our heartstrings should have been a dashing study into Charles Darwin's own studies.

It is true that Darwin was a complete mess following the death of his daughter Annie and that it fueled a larger rift between him and his religious wife, Emma (played by Bettany's real wife Jennifer Connelly). While it's an interesting backdrop to one of the most influential works in history, the film feels exclusively paint by numbers. It is composed of two story lines: the flashbacks leading up to Annie's death, and the present, which chronicles a sickly Darwin struggling with his inner demons and hallucinations of Annie.

The film seems to be about the intersecting of, or contentions between, Darwin's agnostic, scientific views of life and Emma's devotion to a higher power, but their feud is very one dimensional.

Connelly pales in comparison to her husband. It's perhaps due to the fact that her character is offered no backstory, but instead embodies the opposition to Darwin's work in a Church-ruled nation. Their interaction is predictable and predictably dull — they oppose each other's actions, yet can't escape their love for one another. More detective work into who these people were, aside from how their daughter's death affected them, would have created a whole new dimension and realism. Instead we're left with a film that could have replaced Darwin with anyone challenging the social norms of his time. It would have been nice to know what made Darwin such a singular species of man.