On DVD: 
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Running Time: 
108 mins

As Shakefire’s resident “Christian” reviewer (at least according to site owner Peter Oberth), it made complete and natural sense to assign me this DVD review. “What’s that? You’ve got a period piece that depicts Charles Darwin and his thoughts on evolution? I know! We’ll give it to the Christian guy. He was homeschooled, so he wouldn’t know a good movie if it kicked him in the face.” Actually, the conversation didn’t go quite like that. But Peter did get a small amount of glee out of lining me up to review this. And I’ll get a small amount of righteous indignation tearing it to shreds.

I kid, I kid!

But seriously, my faith doesn’t usually cross over that much into my reviews, if only because I don’t view this outlet for my thoughts and reflections on film and music as a “platform” for trying to talk about Jesus. If it’s a natural part of the conversation in the DVD, CD or TV show at hand, then so be it. For the most part, I’m just trying to convey my opinions on whether something is a good piece of art. Obviously I know that my overall worldview works itself out through everything that I think and write, but basically I’m just saying that I’m not out to bludgeon people with what I believe…and especially not in an online world which has such an amazing track record for properly conveying what people really are trying to communicate.

Now then, all that being said, what about the film at hand? It’s not too shabby. It certainly comes packed with a solid cast. And it’s beautifully shot…at least I think it is. You see, Lionsgate didn’t send us a physical copy of the film, so I had to watch it online with a nice floating watermark and varying degrees of video quality, depending on the fluctuations of my Internet connection. So some of the cinematography was terrific, and some of it was lost forever in the land of buffering. But what I could make out looked very nice.

The story is where we start getting into trouble. Now mind you, I’m really okay with the concept and idea of evolution, lest you think that I’m going to bash the film simply because it doesn’t line up exactly with my beliefs. I may not actually embrace every tenant of the theory of evolution, but I found the portrayal of Darwin’s own struggle with the physical evidence of what he was seeing in nature versus the overriding Christian beliefs of the time quite compelling. And I found myself sympathizing with him, more often than not, especially when the religious establishment of the day started essentially persecuting him and his family. My faith allows (and I would submit even requires) a place for open and free discussion. So when I criticize Creation, it’s coming from a filmic perspective, not a faith-based one.

And here it is, my main contention against the film: it’s downright boring. The pacing, the way the topics are explored…it’s snooze-inducing. Which again, given the cast and the powerful topics at hand, is a real shame. I don’t know which parts of the film are fictionalized and which are true to life (thus I have no idea if the church persecution actually happened or not), but surely there was a better way to frame Darwin’s writing of “On the Origin of Species.” Much of the film is told through the lens of the impact that his theories had on his family, specifically his wife and oldest daughter. It actually reminded me of Finding Neverland at various points.

But whereas that film had the benefit of a sense of fantasy and wonder, Creation is hopelessly mired in the need to reduce everything in nature to a simple explanation. And yes, I understand that that’s part of what Darwin himself was doing. But surely there was/is room within a fully scientific explanation of life on earth that allows for a sense of wonder and astonishment?

Who knows…ultimately this movie comes across as a somewhat muddled oddity. It’s not exactly a period piece, it’s not exactly a family drama, it’s not exactly a science lesson. It’s a weird mix of all three and ends up not doing any of them particularly well.

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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