Genesis' title dramatically understates its true scope and ambition. In its own spacey way, the film aspires to do much more than merely document the creation of the universe and life on Earth: It wants to be nothing less than a brief history of the universe in cinematic form, a sort of Cliffs Notes guide to the world in its entirety. That's a formidable task for any filmmaker, even writer-directors Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, the creators of 1996's beloved Microcosmos. Unsurprisingly, the film skates briskly along the surface of its epic subject, offering a never-ending deluge of pretty images and windy New Age bromides in lieu of more penetrating insights.
An ideal film for nature buffs, elementary-school science geeks, stoners, and stoned elementary-school nature-buff science geeks, the film begins, naturally enough, at the very beginning, not just for humanity, but for the universe as a whole. Out of that black nothingness, the film's increasingly annoying wise-old-man narrator/storyteller Sotigui Kouyaté leads audiences on a whirlwind tour through such world-historical moments as when the first scrappy amphibian decided to check out what life was like on land. Eventually, Kouyaté centers on two pillars of contemporary life for folks all up and down the food chain: fighting and fucking. In its quest to document the rich cycle of life, Genesis contains a surprising amount of hot animal-on-animal action. Throw "Let's Get It On" on the soundtrack, and many of the sequences involving animals getting busy could pass for outtakes from the bestiality-centric Rob Schneider vehicle The Animal. Genesis at least boasts the suggestion of profundity, but it probably works best as a head film, since the ideas are fuzzy and superficial, but the imagery is nonstop, colorful, and kinetic, though eventually wearying and repetitive. Genesis offers a feast for the senses, but before long, sensory overload sets in and the film becomes something of a chore. Who knew the universe could be this dull?