The Creator

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any streaming offers for The Creator.

It’s hilariously appropriate that “The Creator,” a film about the danger and possibility of artificial intelligence, barely resembles sophisticated science fiction.


Director and co-writer Gareth Edwards’ picture has the appearance and tone of a serious, original work of art, but because it reuses visuals and concepts from numerous influential forerunners, it ends up feeling hollow. Greig Fraser (“Dune,” “The Batman,” Edwards’ “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Oren Soffer, the film’s cinematographers, provide breathtaking sights that make the movie a joy to behold. Along with some exciting action sequences and creative world-building in the first hour or two.


Together with co-writer of 2016’s “Rogue One,” Chris Weitz, Edwards wrote the script that would serve as the foundation for “Andor” on Disney+, the most compelling and intellectual “Star Wars” series to date. While “The Creator” appears to have the similar goals of fusing thrill with knowledge, it eventually falls short.


There is also a timing issue here: Given that the Writers Guild of America had been on strike for the previous five months in opposition to the use of AI to replace humans in a variety of scenarios, it is unintentionally awkward for a film to suggest that perhaps it isn’t such a bad idea after all. (SAG-AFTRA continues to battle this tendency, which makes sense.)Additionally, John David Washington joins her in the role of the requisite reluctance-filled father figure who must guide her to safety. An opening montage tells us that artificial intelligence has long been a welcome part of human existence, serving every role from chefs to track stars to astronauts.


However, by the time we meet Joshua Washington in 2065, AI is to responsible for a nuclear bomb going off in the center of Los Angeles, killing a million people (among them Joshua’s family), and leaving Joshua with a lost leg. Although the West is now anti-AI, robots are still welcomed in New Asia, a mingling of civilizations halfway around the world where Joshua has found peace and in a fascinating society.


In one of the film’s many creative examples of fusing old and new technology, they cuddle to the sounds of bossa nova playing on the turntable. A wonderful usage of Radiohead’s creepy, electronic song “Everything in Its Right Place” during a nighttime raid is only one example of how creatively chosen the soundtracks are throughout the film.


Joshua’s fantasy, however, is abruptly interrupted when Maya is taken away from him. Five years later, he is compelled to join a team looking for a hidden weapon that was created by a mysterious man known only as The Creator. Joshua is a covert special forces operative who is required to carry out orders from the American military and its sinister, hovering airship known as NOMAD, with its scouring beams of light that produce some of the movie’s most shocking, heart-stopping moments.


These swaggering evil guys, commanded by a tough-as-nails Allison Janney, are straight out of a James Cameron film. She is primarily responsible for yelling commands, though she occasionally displays quiet tenderness. The purpose of the American invasion on this pan-Asian country is obviously to mimic the imagery we witnessed during the Vietnam War; the end product is artistic but extremely familiar and not the least bit subdued. Meanwhile, crowded, neon-lit urban nightscapes look like they were taken directly from “Blade Runner.”


However, as soon as Joshua locates his intended victim—young Alphie, whom we first observe at a tense moment watching cartoons—alone in a large room, his affections for her start to soften. As they set off on the road together, he calls her “Lil Sim.”


The heart that lies beneath the visual effects is still smooth and fluid, yet it is absent. For a while, Washington’s cool, detached on-screen attitude makes sense in this situation since the goals of his broken character are meant to remain obscure. But because Joshua’s character arc isn’t fully depicted on the page, he can only persuade us of his development to a limited extent.


As “The Creator” keeps going and going with many endings, Edwards awkwardly juggles serious ideas about what it means to be human with amazing, explosive action sequences.


The film’s logic is so complicated that by the time Joshua finds himself putting his life in danger during a major, climactic set piece, you might be left wondering why he is there in the first place. Even while the movie starts off promising, you might end yourself wondering what you’re doing there as well.

currently showing in cinemas.

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