From writer/director Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One,” “Godzilla“) comes an epic sci-fi action thriller set amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence. Joshua (John David Washington, “Tenet“), a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan, “Eternals“), is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war… and mankind itself. Joshua and his team of elite operatives journey across enemy lines, into the dark heart of AI-occupied territory… only to discover the world-ending weapon he’s been instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young child (newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
In The Creator, Gareth Edwards’s messy mashup of sci-fi and war movie, we are the villains, US, as in the United States. It might seem like a bold thing, but it is not. Every great Vietnam film from Apocalypse Now to Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods has done it. Nor is the concept of Artificial Intelligence being good for humanity. The good A.I. list includes Spielberg’s A.I, Short Circuit, The Iron Giant, and Chappie. The war movie and A.I. have never coexisted as messily and happily as in The Creator. Coexisting with the machines, seeing them as equals with their own distinct humanity is good— the opposite means war, savagery, dehumanization, apocalypse now. Siding with the machines, in this case is easy. That they all live and fight for their freedom from U.S. tyranny in a United Pan-Asia is the almost new concept. It’s been waiting for positive inclusion ever since Blade Runner combined the two.
Edwards has created a Vietnam film with sci-fi gloss. Apocalypse Now is a particular point of inspiration. The unique twist is that the Kurtz character is a 6 year old female “simulant ”, a Dali Lama with the budding power to control technology from anywhere. It’s not madness but knowledge, the whole catalogue of human consciousness and existence that is both attempted to be killed and saved in the body of a sentient, compassionate and evolving proto -human. Edwards attempted this fusion in his first film Monsters. The Creator is a kind of homecoming for him.
The film never really achieves the tear jerks that Edwards is striving for. The inversions that try to depict humans as artificial and the robots as humans get lost in the stereotypes fighting each other. The Creator is too busy being a break neck action film. It doesn’t have time to stop long enough to fully develop its humanity.
CGI cotton candy goes a long way in hiding The Creator’s plot and character inconsistencies. Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voles) is both cute and eerie looking, as are the rest of the Asian simulants, who have circular portals for ears and reveal their artifice when they turn their faces to the side or seen from behind. The hero, Joshua (John David Washington), whose artificial arm makes him a slight simulant, feels visually disconnected from the set pieces. His fraught backstory is diffused. His relationship with his dead wife (Gemma Chan) gets lost in the chopped up and brief flashbacks. Plus, there is always the sneaky and looming suspicion that the good simulants might go bad eventually.
Coming amidst a year where A.I. papers and scientists are warning about this extinction level threat to humanity, striking screenwriters worried about losing their livelihood to machine generated inspiration, striking actors seeking compensation for CGI created generations of their past and future performances, striking automakers trying to stop the spread of mechanization, The Creator is the wrong movie at the wrong time.
The Creator gets a 3.0 out of 5 or a B.
- Gareth Edwards
- Gareth Edwards
- Kiri Hart
- Jim Spencer
- September 29, 2023(United States)