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Review: The Creator. A Sci-fi waste of time and resources

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: Gareth Edwards.
  • Producers: Gareth Edwards and James Wilson.
  • Screenplay by: Gareth Edwards, Kiri Hart, Arnon Milchan, Galileo Mondol, Gaku Narita, Ace Salvador and Jim Spencer.
  • Cinematographer: Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer.
  • Music by: Hans Zimmer.

Synopsis: during a war between the US and New Asia over the latter’s use of AI, a double agent discovers where his loyalty lies and protects New Asia’s new weapon to end the war.

Shotgun Commentary: if you feel like wasting a little over two hours of your life, or playing a nice drinking game, this is the film for you.

Joshua (John David Washington) sitting. Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

Review

The best way to watch The Creator and avoid a huge disappointment is to expect absolutely nothing from it. If your plan is to watch a nice, entertaining sci-fi feature, watch The Fifth Element (Luc Besson, 1997). The Creator is not what you are looking for. Neither is it serious, thoughtful nor clever, despite its desperate attempts.

It is more of a project with big aspirations, but terrible results. The kind of motion picture that you watch when you just need to yell at a screen for a bit. Or when you have friends over and want to have a few laughs at the expense of something.

The not-at-all overused analogy

The narrative develops the most on-the-nose metaphor for the US “weapons of massive destruction in Iraq” fiasco:

Nomad about to attack a temple in the mountains. Source: The Creator
(Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

The US, which is sometimes referred to as “the West” –because there are no other countries, or full continents, in the west other than The United States of America–, misuses a great power, AI, resulting in an atomic bomb dropping in LA.

As a result, US does the predictable thing. They decide for the whole world that AI is bad and needs to be eradicated before it destroys humanity. The western countries, since they are but extensions of the US and completely irrelevant, agree with them and terminate all AI.

A US agent about to kill Alphie. Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

However, New Asia does not agree and continues to work with AI. This obviously means that the US is forced to kill everyone in New Asia until all AI technology is eliminated, because… Oh yeah, the white American men always know better.

And in case the audience still can’t understand who the good guys are, the American soldiers threaten puppies. You read it right, puppies, to get information, making the story more of a caricature than it already was.

The good guys… Ostensibly.

Additionally, New Asia’s portrayal is the result of an unclear vision that changes as the movie is being shot. At first, it is this place where people are more empathetic and evolve into one big community. We see this through their decision to keep AI and the evolution of their languages into one common language –that no one bothers to use, choosing Thai or Japanese instead, without any subtitles for the audience, of course–, while US still uses a completely unevolved English and doesn’t bother to learn any other language. So just another Thursday, really.

Colonel Howell (Allison Janney). Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

Somehow, despite them having the technological advantage, their security guards and police force, made mostly of AI robots, are completely useless. They don’t see danger coming. Their aim is worse than that of a drunk mole, and they have the reflexes of a brick.

In case this still made sense to the viewers, they suddenly have no problem with shooting a van full of kids that also contains their only hope of survival. Or exploding a flat where both humans and robots are living, for that matter. Who were the good guys again?

Down the rabbit hole

After all the previous information sinks in, you will start thinking about how Americans supposedly only want to kill AI and not humans, but they use bombs instead of electromagnetic pulses or some other similar technique. After that, you will witness the most predictable plot twist since Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019). A surprising reveal that makes less and less sense the more you think about it. Unless American spies are as gullible as a 3-year-old, which is also a possibility. Finally, you reach the culmination of nonsense thanks to the main characters’ behaviour during the climax of the feature, which will be explored below. This comes hand in hand with the peak of the terribly disguised critique of America’s modus operandi when they use AI bases to destroy New Asia’s AI.

Character… creation?

As promised, it’s time to talk about Joshua (John David Washington) and Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), a robot kid that looks like a boy, talks like a boy and has a boy’s name, but somehow is easily recognised as a girl by a dying, half-delusional man.

Joshua watching Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) sleep. Source: The Creator
(Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

Ten minutes after meeting the kid, Joshua is already pushing his beliefs on her, which feels wrong until you realise that those beliefs have already been installed in her, only with the New Asian language instead of English. Later on, this seems like a minor hiccup in what turns out to be just lazy character creation.

Joshua is a trained spy and soldier that used to work for the US government. Yet somehow, he knows nothing about their tactics nor about deception. It feels like he would’ve been better off as a missionary rather than a soldier spy.

As for the kid, Alphie, Yuna Voyles’ performance is amazing. She has a lot of talent, does not overact, and watching her doesn’t feel overbearing, a feat that most child-actors do not achieve. It is frustrating to see such talent wasted because of terrible writing. Alphie’s abilities only work when the script needs them too.

Alphie. Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

Without any explanation, some problems that could be easily fixed by her powers are not. Then again, other issues that no one bothered to fix are magically solved. A great example of this would be some missiles that are launched. They are electronically powered and yet a kid who can control electronic devices can’t stop them, but blowing up their origin place disables them? Because… Yeah, exactly.

But at least it’s pretty…

One might think that, if the plot is full of holes, it might be because the focus was on the technical aspects. Sadly, they are not as astonishing as one might expect. While the use of sound was good, The Creator was released a little after Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023), making the sound effects not as awe-inspiring in comparison.

Additionally, the song Clair de Lune is usually used with very pretentious intentions and, more often than not, overused for no reason. Despite it being a beautiful composition and quite fitting in the moment of the movie that it is played, it has no place being at the beginning of the end credits. It seems like one last try of a film that is trying to be taken seriously, but comes across as the final step into parody.

Nomad attacking. Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

Lastly, the visual effects. They are adequate. Maybe because they have been so widely praised, one might expect more than they will get. They much alike the I, Robot (Alex Proyas, 2004) special effects, only that feature was premiered twenty years ago. Nowadays, especially after the precedent set by the MCU, the audience expects to be wooed when watching sci-fi content about robots and AI. Sadly, that is quite far from the truth. The Creator delivers average, slightly outdated, effects over a beautiful cinematography that sort of distracts you from your expectations.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you can control technology, maybe focus on disabling weapons instead of on opening and closing doors?
  • If you are terrible at strategy or planning or reading people, spy/soldier might not be the job for you.
  • Never believe the hype, never believe the hype, never believe the hype.
Joshua discovering what the weapon is. Source: The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023). ©Disney

What’s your take? Have you watched The Creator? Did you like it? How? Why? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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2 replies on “Review: The Creator. A Sci-fi waste of time and resources”

Nice review! This movie seems even more lame to me when I consider how much Disney has to win from making “subtle” pro-AI propaganda to sway public opinion towards more forgiving legislation and wider acceptation of its use in the film industry.

Interesting take! Through that lens, it makes a lot more sense that anyone would give money to make this. Otherwise, it’s quite inexplicable.

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