Movie review: "Creation"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Taking place some 20 years after his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle led him to the Galapagos Islands, the biopic "Creation" focuses on Charles Darwin the man, not the scientist.

What we get is Darwin (Paul Bettany) as a family man with his wife Emma (Bettany's real-life wife Jennifer Connelly) and their four children. Unfortunately they're mostly alienated because he's devastated by the death of his 10-year old daughter, Annie, while struggling with his masterpiece, "On the Origin of Species."

Darwin's crippled by depression and caught between his allegiance to science and his devout community and spouse, and "Creation" serves as a character study of internal struggle.

This would be forgivable - although predictable in the fall-followed-by-eventual-comeback scenario that's standard for middling biopics - if the melodrama were toned down and the pace was less plodding.

Making matters worse is a portrayal of Darwin as some flawed genius struggling with the grips of reality - a la "A Beautiful Mind" - as he's haunted by ghostly hallucinations of his daughter. I can't think of a bigger contradiction than putting the guy who's considered the ultimate man of science at the center of what's essentially a "Ghost Hunters" episode.

The bright spots are solid, but too few in comparison to formulaic plot mechanics. Bettany is truly superb at times, conveying the grief of losing a child and how it can subvert one's Christian beliefs.

But the film feels too heavy by the time it reaches the final act. In other words, it's not a real friggin' upper.


Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

Grade: C