Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Premise: In the midst of a war between human beings and artificially intelligent robots, a soldier (John David Washington) is assigned to destroy a superweapon that will win the war. He discovers a robot child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) that’s capable of controlling electronic devices.
What Works: The Creator is a beautifully produced film. The picture takes place in the future with a lot of advanced technology but everything feels organic. A lot of the artificially intelligent characters are either fully robotic or they are a fusion of human actors and artificial parts. The human/robotic combinations merge the two elements in a way that is completely convincing and never distracting. The emphasis remains on the performances by the actors without the special effects intruding on the scene. The same is true of the use of locations. The Creator was apparently shot in a lot of real-life locals with some physical sets and a lot of digitally created elements such as aircraft. As with the actors, the real and the artificial merge together seamlessly and the filmmakers take advantage of the locations. The visuals emphasize the natural elements which gives The Creator a lot of credibility. The filmmakers also demonstrate an understanding of the kind of movie they’ve made. The early scenes deliver exposition efficiently and the story is paced well. It hits the requisite emotional beats and the relationship between Joshua and Alphie is convincing.
What Doesn’t: The Creator presents a very familiar story. Anyone who has watched a science fiction movie about artificial intelligence will recognize the narrative formula employed here and the movie contains no surprises. The filmmakers don’t even try to innovate. The conflict is very binary in a way that simplifies everything. The American miliary forces are entirely bad, the robots are entirely virtuous, and there is no equivocation between them. Joshua gradually realizes he’s fighting for the wrong side but there’s no cost to that choice. The film introduces some interesting implications but none of them are explored. The opening exposition informs the audience that the war started when the AI destroyed Los Angeles with a nuclear bomb but later a robot denies responsibility. This warrants a lot more exploration but the story doesn’t allow for it. The film also has implications for terrorism and there are a lot of collateral casualties as a result of actions taken on both sides of the conflict. There is so much going on here that The Creator might have been better as a series than as a feature film.
Bottom Line: The Creator is an impressive piece of filmmaking but less so as storytelling. It’s familiar and predictable but the filmmakers do this story well enough and The Creator is distinguished by its visual panache.
Episode: #968 (October 8, 2023)