Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Connolly’


Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 3.47.49 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “RoboCop,” “WEinter’s Tale” and “About Last Night.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


creation-bettany-paul-cp-tiffFor clarity “Creation” should have been subtitled, The Origin of The Origin of Species. Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who revolutionized science with his theory that all species of life descended from common ancestors. We meet him in the years leading up to the publication of his groundbreaking work on natural selection, a work condemned by the church, and, closer to home, by Emma, his religious wife (Jennifer Connolly), who feared his ideas would separate them forever in the afterlife.

Based on the book “Annie’s Box” by Darwin’s great, great grandson, Randal Keynes “Creation” wipes away the popular image of Darwin as an old, bewhiskered scientist, bringing him to somewhat vivid life—he was plagued by sickness for much of his adult life—telling the story of the troubled evolution of his theory of evolution.

“Creation” is handsomely photographed, beautifully acted by real-life husband and wife Bettany and Connolly, wonderfully appointed with 1850s period details and just a bit dull. The story should be quite fascinating—between the death of his beloved daughter, his inner demons, his sicknesses and his scientific trailblazing Darwin’s life is not short of drama—but director Jon Amiel has a hard time balancing Darwin’s personal and professional lives. They are, of course, almost inextricably intertwined, but Amiel let’s the film get away from him in the middle section, placing too much emphasis on Darwin’s neuroses and not enough on the story.

Keeping things compelling, however, is Bettany who does impressive work, artfully and subtly portraying Darwin’s complicated inner life, drawing whatever emotion there is to be had out of this austere and slowly paced script.

Connolly, on the other hand, is as cold as ice as Darwin’s fiercely pious wife Emma. The expected warmth between the real-life couple is largely absent as Connolly completely disappears into the role of the hardnosed wife who put her religious values before her husband’s scientific beliefs.

Also worth noting is newcomer Martha West as daughter Annie, the common link who binds Charles and Emma together. Without fail her scenes bring the film warmth and familial energy.

“Creation” picks up in its final minutes, giving us a glimpse of the intelligent, exciting movie it could have been, but it’s too little to late.


9: 3 ½ STARS

9 backFor those who thought last year’s “WALL-E” was the last word in animated post apocalyptic entertainment along comes a dark fable about a war ravaged world populated by brave burlap dolls (numbered 1 through 9) and terrifying machines. Call it Sock Puppets Save the World if you like, but despite the kid-friendly lead characters, “9” isn’t as cute and cuddly as “WALL-E.”

Set ten years after the war to end all wars actually ended everything, “9” really picks up when the title character mistakenly awakens a terrifying machine with the ability to create other machines of destruction. As 9 and the other dolls fight the evil machines they discover the very essence of their existence; that they were created by a scientist who knew the end of life as he knew it was near. Rather than see all life disappear he created these limited edition rag dolls, each with a special skill, to continue life.

The basic idea behind “9” is something we’ve seen before—technology goes wild and machines turn on humans—but what makes this film unique is, bless their little burlap hearts, the rag dolls. Each has a well defined personality and while the voice work isn’t terribly strong—save for Christopher Plummer as 1, the king doll—they all bring something interesting to the story.

Jennifer Connolly voices 7, a kind of ninja beanie baby character. She’s a strong female presence in a genre that often lacks interesting roles for women. Other voices in this eclectic cast include Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover and Martin Landau.

“9” isn’t so much a story as it is a series of action set pieces bound together by ideas. The narrative is simple—man has been destroyed and now these little saviors must defeat the big bad machines or they too will be crushed—and little effort is spent developing the story past a certain point. Lots of effort, however, has been put into creating the elaborate action scenes that make up the bulk of the film.

The wild scenes—mainly of demonic looking machines trying to kill the little dolls—may be too intense for young kids. Ten and eleven year olds should be fine with the imagery—human skulls attached to winged metal skeletons and the like—but anyone younger than that might have trouble sleeping after these frenetic, violent sequences.

Of course, there is an environmental message attached to the story; this is, after all a movie aimed at the young. It’s not heavy handed, but lines like “This world is ours now… it’s what we make of it” subtly push kids to think about their surroundings.

“9” is cool sci fi for kids with imaginative characters and lots of action that doesn’t talk down to its audience.