The Creator is the latest film from 20th Century Studios. It marks director Gareth Edwards’s return to filmmaking since his last release in 2016—the hugely successful Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
In Edwards’s latest work, The Creator, we are transported to a future where artificial intelligence was designed to assist and safeguard humans, only to later trigger a nuclear attack in Los Angeles, leading the United States to eliminate the technology in the West. The machines flee and find refuge in “New Asia,” where they peacefully coexist in society. Due to the events that unfolded back at home, however, the U.S. wages war against AI, claiming that another attack is bound to happen.
The movie follows the character Joshua, played by John David Washington. Joshua is a former member of the special forces who is struggling with the loss of his wife during an undercover mission to track down “Nirmata,” the mysterious leader of AI development in the East. Several years after the fact, Joshua is drawn into another covert operation after learning of his wife’s possible survival. His task: track down and eliminate Nirmata’s new mysterious weapon that is capable of ending the war and possibly mankind.
Joshua and his team of elite operatives venture deep into enemy territory, navigating the treacherous landscape of AI-controlled zones to capture and eliminate the secret weapon. However, a surprising twist awaits Joshua when he finds out that the weapon he was assigned to neutralize turns out to be an AI entity in the form of a young child. This unexpected revelation shakes Joshua to his core, challenging his beliefs and ultimately leading him to question the morality of the mission, the future of humanity, and the true intentions of the war.
At approximately 2 hours and 13 minutes, The Creator takes its time in terms of pacing, which may cause some viewers to find it slow, but the film utilizes this duration effectively to deliver an interesting story with a balance of action, tension, and heartfelt moments.
Certain critics have expressed reservations about character development, but I don’t find this to be entirely the case. I believe the film offers a degree of growth and evolution for its protagonist, Joshua. Though his backstory may be somewhat underdeveloped, we do witness his transformation as the story unfolds, including gaining insight into his motivations. What I find particularly fascinating about Joshua’s character is his shift from a position of mistrust towards AI, initially believing they lack genuine emotions, to one of trust and even fondness after encountering a child AI, Nirmata’s weapon whom he names Alphie (played by Madeleine Yuna Voyles), that exhibits authentic emotions he initially dismissed as programmed. At the same time, it can be said that he is easy to manipulate as he now feels sympathy for the emotions he previously claimed were programmed and false.
Alphie truly stands out as a significant driving force for the story. She brings a fresh perspective to war movies and pushes the narrative forward. Alphie’s portrayal as an innocent, compassionate, and sentimental AI entity challenges the protagonist’s beliefs and adds depth to the exploration of the ethical implications surrounding artificial intelligence. Her character contributes to the thought-provoking nature of the film and offers a unique take on the role of AI in warfare. After watching the film, you may find yourself empathizing with her as well.
The Creator definitely borrows ideas from other movies and can, at times, feel familiar. That’s because according to the director, it incorporated all the films he grew up loving. Despite this, I appreciate it being an otherwise original story that’s not based on existing intellectual properties, and I think it’s great that the director was able to create something new while still paying tribute to past favorites. This makes the film stand out in a landscape saturated with prequels, sequels, and reboots in recent years. Additionally, I felt that the movie stayed true to its trailers, accurately capturing the tone and story without overselling it as some movies do; this enhances the overall viewing experience.
Visually, The Creator surpasses expectations given its relatively modest budget of reportedly just 80 million dollars. The film boasts stunning settings that captivate the eye, top-notch action sequences, and CGI effects that are seamlessly integrated and believable. One minor flaw I found, however, is not exactly related to the cinematography—it’s the unnecessary presence of title cards throughout the movie.
The Creator is a thought-provoking film that surfaces at a time when society is just beginning to grapple with the impact of AI, making it all the more pertinent. It’s worth noting that AI was a key factor in the Hollywood writers’ strike. With that in mind, I feel that The Creator takes an interesting stance on the subject matter.
All in all, I believe The Creator had the potential to deliver an improved story, but it still offers viewers a solid sci-fi production with amazing performances. It successfully combines action and emotion to present a unique perspective on a pressing and relevant topic. With impressive visuals that stay true to the essence of its trailers, this movie provides a gratifying experience for sci-fi enthusiasts and those intrigued by the ethical implications associated with AI. The Creator also brings a much-needed original story to Hollywood, highlighting the necessity for more unique narratives in the industry. Regardless of personal opinions about the film, it deserves credit for addressing this important issue.
The Creator is in theaters beginning September 29. The movie is rated PG-13.