A Sci-fi feast for fans, The Creator boasts incredible visuals and massive world-building with a story that challenges the notion of what it means to be human.
The Creator Movie Review
In 2070, artificial intelligence has advanced enough to be considered its own sentient species. These simulants look like people, minus the visible machinery in their heads. Despite contributing to society, many humans have looked down on them as lesser beings. After a devastating attack on Los Angeles, the US begins a war against AI, looking to exterminate them all and the people who are helping them. Enter ex-special forces agent Joshua (John David Washington) who goes undercover in stimulant-friendly “New Asia” in order to track down and eliminate “Nirmata” AKA The Creator, the architect of Artificial Intelligence who has now created a weapon that will end this war. Joshua is ready to complete his mission until he discovers that the weapon is a small simulant child Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). Not only is Alphie an innocent, but she may also be able to help him find answers about his wife Maya's (Gemma Chan) disappearance. This puts him in direct conflict with his country and Colonel Jean Howell (Allison Janney). The race is on to save humanity, the simulants, and find his wife.
The Creator is a visual and technical feast for Sci-fi fans. It is especially a treat for those that have been clamoring online for something original. Director-writer Gareth Edwards, along with his Rogue One partner Chris Weitz have created a film that boasts incredible visuals, ambitious world-building , that also challenges everything we believe about morality, compassion, and what it means to be human. What grounds the film amidst all the simulants and mega-machines is the connection between Washington and the scene stealing Voyles. Their bond carries the story through even when the second act drags its feet a little in order to land a stunning finale.
It is clear The Creator gets some inspiration from other films in the same vein like Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence or even Gareth's previous work Rogue One, the latter on clear display during the final act. However, Gareth presents a different version of the AI revolution than we typically see, mainly these androids are human-like and not all humanity fears them. In fact not only are they not feared but they are intricate parts of daily life. They are farmers, teachers, monks… friends. Peace was a given until the mishap that spurred the US military into committing android genocide. In this way, The Creator pivots from the typical (and basic) us vs them to something more thought-provoking. If the simulants aren't raging Terminator like machines then why fight so hard to exterminate them? In this scenario the “us” represents both humans and androids who just want to live in peace vs a country that shoots first and asks questions never.
This central conflict is what propels the story forward but the beating heart of the entire operation is Joshua and Alphie's bond. Sure the reluctant father figure and kid trope is popular these days but that's because it works. Washington and Voyles don't have the benefit of a season to cement their relationship like say Din and Grogu, but it is clear these two care for one another. According to Gareth, he and Washington agreed that the latter's relationship with Voyles off screen was as important as the one onscreen. This dedication to building a friendship paid off. Even when the fighting gets a little redundant, you can't help but be invested in these two characters, hoping it all works out for them in the end.
Washington plays a more grounded character in The Creator unlike his protagonist role in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. He gives a powerful performance, deftly showcasing the conflicted nature of Joshua. Here is a soldier who goes from following orders to realizing there is another side to the story of this war. He was intent on finishing the job, wiping out the architect and the AI weapon until he came face-to-face with her. Now he must reconcile his beliefs with reality. This internal war is amplified whenever he shares the screen with the delightfully evil Janney or the kindhearted Alphie. Washington wows throughout.
But it is Voyles, a newcomer to Hollywood, who is the scene stealer. She is both innocent and determined, fearful and fearless in the face of what is required of her. Voyles is one to watch if she continues her acting career. Alphie doesn't just have Joshua looking out for her. Ken Watanabe who plays AI soldier Harun, is a force as the leader of the AI forces while also being gentle when it comes to both Alphie and the others in his found family.
The Creator is ambitious both with its massive universe and at times dense storyline. While Alphie and Joshua carry the emotional burden, Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer's photography does the heavy lifting visually. The world of The Creator is richly detailed with seamless VFX woven throughout in a way that doesn't detract from the beauty or the futuristic look of the real sets. This special effects feat was accomplished by the geniuses at Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Workshops. New Asia, the safe place for the androids, is picturesque in its beauty. The camera sweeps over the mountains and throughout the landscape as if in a dance. There are reminders this is the future, a few imaginative buildings and of course the simulants themselves but overall this place is serene that is until the destructive military vehicles appear.
With its Death Star-like presence, NOMAD sweeps over the lands with harsh lights and ominous music. The latter thanks to the ineffable Hans Zimmer. The design of the vehicles from NOMAD to the tanks are so detailed and unique. Basically they look really, really cool. Production designer James Clyne and Edwards found inspiration in the world of Anime which is probably why this geek was drawn to their look. Gareth utilizes multiple camera angles to heighten the intensity felt by the characters. The large action sequences are extraordinary, something Gareth is particularly skilled at. However the continual onslaught of the military bogs the second act down a bit, no matter how visually amazing it looks. Thankfully once the film hits its third act, the ball begins rolling again and leads to an impressive climax that is sure to wow.
Original, ambitious, and visually stunning, The Creator is here to fill the void movie audiences have been clamoring for in the Sci-fi genre. Its unique take on the AI vs human trope is intriguing, succeeding in making you question your stance on how humanity is defined. Does it simply mean those of flesh and blood or are emotions and actions also taken into consideration? Sure it may not hide its heart-pulling tactics that go hand-in-hand with that question but Washington and Voyles' bond is so pure it doesn't even matter. Edwards has delivered an ambitious project that will surely please Sci-fi fans looking for something new and exciting.
The Creator is in theaters September 29. It is rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and strong language with a runtime of 2 hours and 13 minutes.