'The Creator' review: Beautifully poignant sci-fi epic puts the humanity in A.I
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, and Allison Janney.
Humans and artificial intelligence have been fighting each other in movies for years. From the Terminator franchise's Skynet wiping our humans, to The Matrix reducing us to mere batteries, the general consensus has always been "humans good, A.I bad".
Well, Gareth Edwards’ latest film, The Creator, flips that on its head and delivers a movie that at its core is a story of finding a human heart within an artificial intelligence.
Set in a future where humans are fighting for its existence against the robotic forces of an A.I society, John David Washinton stars as American ex-Special Forces agent Joshua, who is tasked with hunting down and killing the Creator, the person who created and developed the advanced AI that the human race is fighting against now.
The Creator has apparently developed a powerful weapon that can end the war, wiping out mankind in the process, and Joshua’s team has to go deep into the AI’s stronghold in New Asia in order to destroy it.
Joshua has an ulterior motive as well – he lost his wife Maya (Gemma Chan) and unborn child during an undercover operation, and was tempted back into action by the faint hope that she is still alive in New Asia.
What he did not expect, however, is that the humanity-ending weapon he has to destroy is actually an A.I being in the form of a young child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
Dang, Artoo, have you been working out?
In this age of sequels, prequels, adaptations, biographies, and cinematic universes, it’s harder and harder to come by a decent film with an original story that is not based on any existing IPs or real life personalities.
But every now and then, you get surprises like The Creator. Sure, we've seen humans vs robots stories before, but Edwards manages to use this well-used trope to tell a very heartfelt story from both the human AND the A.I perspective.
He dares to ask the question: What if AI actually doesn’t want to go all Skynet on us, but instead, just wants to, you know, live? What if the humans are the ones who feel threatened by robots? What if the robots have more ‘humanity’ than the humans themselves?
No one gets away with interrupting Joshua's naptime.
Instead of going all in on the action, Edwards instead focuses on the more emotional aspects of the war. You’ll feel anger and disgust at the ruthless, heartless way in which the American soldiers, and even Joshua himself, refers to the robots’ feelings being ‘just programming. “Not dead. Just off,” he justifies at one point.
You’ll feel sadness and pain at the children wailing after their robot friends and family members are ‘turned off’ by the soldiers. You’ll feel jubilation and joy at every win they get.
Central to the emotional maelstrom is Joshua and Alphie. Well, mostly Alphie, to be honest. As good as Washington is as the hardened yet broken Joshua, the MVP of The Creator is child actor Madeleine Yuna Voyles, who plays Alphie with all the wide-eyed innocence of a child who is also weighed down with the heavy weight of expectation upon her shoulders.
I thought we already got rid of Thanos' army?
Edwards’ decision to film on location before putting in the visual effects also gives The Creator a much more... organic and natural feel than most sci-fi movies, which tend to rely heavily on green screens and giant soundstages. It really does beg the question: why can’t more movies be filmed this way?
Ultimately, The Creator doesn’t just deliver a straightforward humans versus robots movie. It’s not an action film – more like thought-provoking sci-fi sprinkled with a little action, and a lot more heart. It’s the freshest movie to come out this year, the most relatable in terms of human emotions, and also the most frightening in terms of the questions it raises about A.I and how it affects us.
Who knows, this might actually be our future we are watching – not just filmmaking, but of humanity as well.……
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