The Creator (2023) Review
By Ridge Harripersad,2023-09-26
Gareth Edwards’ last directing gig was for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Godzilla (2014) . His major directorial debut was with the awesome indie film Monsters, and all of these were examples of how Edwards understood the assignment of creating visually striking monolithic creatures or objects. The Creator was nothing short of his understanding of building a world that captures amazing environments, juxtaposed with gargantuan CGI/VFX things.
The Creator kicks off with some backstory of an Earth world where we have pushed to create robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.) to help us humans in our daily lives. From protection to service workers, robots and A.I. helped humans, until one day a nuclear bomb was launched on downtown Los Angeles—killing millions of innocent lives. The digital signatures traced back to A.I. having to be linked to the attack. Thus began the war between humans versus A.I./robots/Simulants (Simulants were essentially robots with human faces, like in Ex Machina ).
The only way the humans believe they could end the war is to kill “Nirmata”, which is Sanskrit for The Creator, because it was said Nirmata was the instigator of the LA attack. The story followed a U.S. Special Forces agent named Joshua (John David Washington) who tries to infiltrate and learn where Nirmata is being held by blending in with the locals in an A.I. safe-haven called New Asia (Thailand and other Southeast Asian regions/countries). The safe-haven contained both human A.I. sympathizers and A.I. civilians/rebels.
During Joshua’s time undercover, he developed relationships with the locals, even marrying one of them named Maya (Gemma Chan). Things go awry and separate him from his wife. While searching for his wife, he stumbles across a child that could change the tides of the war forever.
“Do not get me started on the visuals. If you saw the trailers for The Creator, you can already get a gist of what to expect.”
Washington is back in full science fiction force! Coming hot off of Tenet , he really brought a lot more range in this film. I felt like he was a great action star in Tenet, this film put him to the test of being this conflicted character placed in a similar situation like Jake Sully in the Avatar films. His relationship with the child named Alphie was both cute and touching. My only gripe about their relationship was that there were not enough scenes for them to connect, but definitely better than some other adult-child, buddy-cop films.
Do not get me started on the visuals. If you saw the trailers for The Creator, you can already get a gist of what to expect. The human weapon made to combat the A.I. threats was called NOMAD, which was essentially a grey, gigantic space station hovering Earth, or primarily the New Asia region, that could launch missiles and other tactical support for human soldiers in enemy territory. The design of NOMAD was menacing, yet fascinating if you are into architecture and weaponry.
I thought Edwards did a superb job scaling NOMAD as this terrifying space station that could wipe out threats in an instant. It reminded me of the Hammer of Dawn in the Gears of War games but less energy pulsing power and more nuclear. I mean, it was very symbolic like the Death Star in the Star Wars universe in terms of being a huge moving weapon.
“The score/music for The Creator was done by Oscar-award-winning composer Han Zimmer, always a treat to hear what he brings to film scores.”
The targeting system was just as scary as its weapons. It was very video game-esque with a blue projection of the targeted impact area, sort of like when you call in an airstrike in games like Call of Duty . It felt so familiar to me, but I think it is a lot scarier than simply a red dot pointing to a person or an area. NOMAD on its own was scary, but wait until you see what other weapons the humans have cooking for their A.I. enemies.
The score/music for The Creator was done by Oscar-award-winning composer Han Zimmer, always a treat to hear what he brings to film scores. His work on The Creator was nothing short of exceptional; the synthesizers went pretty crazy in this film. I would definitely recommend seeing this film in IMAX not just for the visual experience but for the auditory sensory experience as well. One of the songs in the beginning made my brain all warm and fuzzy, not the way dubstep/EDM does it though. It was a little reminiscent of Daft Punk’s music in Tron Legacy.
The VFX and CGI was a masterpiece, especially for the look of the Simulants. The blend of having human faces with machine-looking heads was really well-done, similar to how they designed Ed Skrein’s Zapan character in Alita: Battle Angel . Even the shots showing Joshua’s cybernetic arm and leg showed off a lot of the wiring and gears at work.
“ The Creator was nothing short of his understanding of building a world that captures amazing environments, juxtaposed with gargantuan CGI/VFX things.”
I would say the premise of The Creator was nothing too special, nor was its messaging or symbolism. It was all pretty standard or straightforward for the most part when it comes to these kinds of films. The twists and turns were generally easy to predict. Nothing came out of left field, if you pay attention to the film, the pieces fall together fairly well. There were some interesting cuts in the beginning that made one aspect of the story tricky to follow, but no crazy jump cuts like in Transformers: The Last Knight . I thought it was interesting that they primarily showed the U.S. taking sole responsibility of taking on the robotic war, no other countries were really mentioned.
Overall, this sci-fi adventure really had its heart on the relationship of Joshua and Alphie—with a stunning backdrop of Southeast Asian countries and landscapes. I think it could be a top contender for sci-fi flick of the year, next to They Cloned Tyrone and the upcoming Zach Snyder film Rebel Moon . The technological world-building was both intriguing and mortifying to see what kind of advanced weaponry was created for this human versus robot war. I would love to see more of this world if it gets some kind of sequel or spin-off.
I did not expect The Creator to lean on the backdrop of the Southeast Asian countries to contrast the struggle of machines versus environment—showing how they can co-exist. Also, I was a little confused about the connection of Buddhism and Sanskrit with the film’s themes by the end of the first act. But the deeper you go, it begins to get clearer. The whole concept of the film offered more perspective and a slightly new lens on the whole A.I. debate that mimics the real-world debate in our current times.
I saw the inspirations for a sci-fi flick like this, definitely had a lot of Blade Runner, Akira and Ghost in the Shell nods. As I already mentioned, NOMAD was literally like a mini-Death Star. Even another vehicle that shared the same colours and design as Jabba’s sail barge, Khetanna, at the beginning of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, looked very similar in this film . Only the one in The Creator levitated off of water.
The two hours and 13-minute runtime really flew for me because of how much I was invested in the adventures of Joshua and Alphie. I think it could have been one of the movies that could have been longer to add more wholesome moments with Joshua and Alphie, but other than that, it was a spectacle to see this world build out. It had some Terminator vibes to it, but miraculously did not feel like that at all. The robots were more tranquil like Zenyatta and the Omnics in Overwatch . Can A.I. and humans co-exist in peace? I guess you will have to see The Creator answer that burning question.