“The Creator” is a blessedly great break from the latest Marvel/DC quasi-blockbuster or anything with the words “Star” and “Wars” in it. “The Creator” is a science fiction movie that will leave audiences asking real world questions about artificial intelligence’s place in modern society even after the credits have rolled.
Most are familiar with director Gareth Edwards’ work that he did with “Godzilla” & “Rogue One” and some of his imprint from those movies appear here as well. He takes a thought provoking look at humanity, our existence co-mingled with machines and how we try to stave off extinction.
The plot of the movie starts with a whimsical 1950s reel showing how robots will serve mankind and be our constant companions. As always with those reels it generates a bright reality as we look through rose colored glasses never seeing what the reality will become. Fast forward a century later and AI is blamed for setting off a nuke in Los Angeles starting a war between humanity vs AI humanoids. However, this isn’t the theme that we have seen in past movies such as “The Terminator” where machines single-mindedly want to enslave and exterminate people. There are still factions of humans that still live alongside AI humanoids who mostly just want to be left alone in peace.
Here enters John David Washington as Joshua, a special forces covert operative who has infiltrated an AI/Human colony in New Asia, looking for a way to shut down the colony. After a raid by the military goes wrong and kills Joshua’s pregnant wife Maya (played by Gamma Chan who also notably played an AI humanoid on Humans) he finds himself back in Los Angeles. While there, the military recruits him to go back into action and locate Nimrata, the AI humanoids’ god. After returning back to New Asia on yet another covert op, Joshua runs across Alphie, played by Madeleine Yuna Voyles. Alphie is an AI humanoid girl who may be the decisive key in the AI vs Human war.
The supporting cast is also notable in driving the story forward. Allison Janney play Colonel Howell, a soldier who has scarified a lot in the war and makes for a great sympathetic villain. Ken Watanabe who as an opposite, acts an ally to Joshua. Country singer Sturgill Simpson makes an appearance as well.
As stated earlier, this movie is less like a typical Terminator movie. It has many elements of “Akira”, a dabble of “Ex Machina” and a whole lot of “Blade Runner”. If you are a gamer, you will also recognize a lot of Quantic Dreams’ PlayStation exclusive, Detroit: Become Human’s influence as well. As a sidebar, if you enjoyed “The Creator”, then I highly recommend playing this game as well.
The movie itself was visually arresting as the CGI was not an overwhelming shadow to the story. As opposed to a heavily futuristic setting of some cut and paste city, we are treated to the majority of the story being set mostly in an Asian countryside. It makes a stark contrast seeing how humanity is fighting against machines set in a natural countryside. The story was a thoughtful deep dive in how we treat each other, how we treat the evolution of life and what our philosophies are when life ends. As a matter of fact, fans of “Altered Carbon” will see some tiny nods to one of the shows biggest concepts as it plays out in this movie.
It’s also a movie that for anyone watching, may put them really at odds at taking sides when considering the real-life implications of AI. The movie wants you to feel something emotional, but your miles may vary based on how you feel in reality. You may have existential questions to ask on what is considered life and sentience and what exactly counts as humanity. At the end of it all, you may come out of this movie asking yourself is we can get along? If we can’t get along with other humans across the globe then how to we get along with AI humanoids? Thus, instead of a dumbed down popcorn flick, we are given a competent story of what an anxiety filled near future with AI could look like.
Gareth Edwards gives audiences a movie that is more storydriven than effects driven. This movie should give audiences a lot to consider given the reality of what’s currently happening in society when it comes to the artificial intelligences debate. The Creator is really well paced and thought out and possibly one of the better science fiction movies to come out this decade.
Final Grade: B