This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"The Creator is a very solid if frequently familiar feeling sci-fi epic. The scope, world building and visual palette are absolutely fantastic."
BY JACK RANSOM SEPTEMBER 28, 2023
Director Gareth Edwards’ first feature since 2016. The Creator is set against the backdrop of a war between humans and robots with artificial intelligence, a former soldier (John David Washington) finds the secret weapon, a robot in the form of a young child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
The term blockbuster sci-fi is now frequently just associated with Marvel and DC, both of whom dominate the cinematic landscape and most recently Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which rises above the frequent mediocrity the aforementioned IP’s spout out. Case in point, regardless of its foibles (which we will mention) film fans should absolutely go out and support The Creator, as an original sci-fi property offering large scale spectacle.
Humanity’s simultaneous fear, fascination and reliance on A.I. has been a goldmine for this genre for over 50 years (from 2001: A Space Odyssey all the way up until now) and is also a far more relatable and frighteningly realistic narrative subject due to our current and progressive study and application of our digital cohorts. The Creator provides a fascinating peak into the year 2070 with its world building. We see robot manufacturing lines presented as if the workers were sewing clothes, android religious practices and how different parts of the globe have responded to the war of species.
The story is divided up into four chapters: The Creator, The Child, The Friend and The Mother. Structurally the film is very solid and moves at a consistent pace, occasionally dipping its toes into a slower burn (it does certainly feel its 2hr 15 minute duration), which allows for a more personal character strengthening intimacy amongst the militaristic action heavy backdrop. Make no mistake the messaging (and influence) here is as heavy handed as Avatar and the final act essentially feels like Edwards wanted to remake Rogue One, minus the studio interference.
The film looks absolutely spectacular and I’m staggered that it only cost $80 million (for comparison last week’s Expend4bles cost $100 million and looks worse than most DTV features). The seamless blend of practical sets and digital implementation is incredibly immersive and the cinematography (courtesy of Greg Frasier) adds a grit and grain to the slick futuristic elements. The overall aesthetic and design of the feature is just pure eye-candy for sci-fi fans, especially when it comes to integrating the futuristic elements into quiet rural villages and large scale mountainous regions. The action is reliably solid and delivers plenty of intense tight shootouts and builds to a bombastic finale.
The performances are strong and help flesh out the admittedly familiar and surface level character archetypes. John David Washington’s Joshua is an engaging protagonist, his arc is predictable, but JDW carries it with some heavy lifting in the emotional scenes and smatterings of light hearted snark. Madeliene Yuna Voyles delivers a standout debut performance and she really delivers a calm and innocent performance in this massive scale project. Gemma Chan and Ken Wantanabe both provide reliable supporting presence and gravitas and lastly, whilst the antagonists are incredibly one-note, Allison Janney brings a
relentless and increasingly persistently hard edged and ruthless portrayal as Colonel Howell.
The Creator is a very solid if frequently familiar feeling sci-fi epic. The scope, world building and visual palette are absolutely fantastic, the performances are committed and add weight to the screenplay which does suffer from traits and tropes that you will have seen done before. Whilst well constructed, Edwards is offering up action set pieces that are admittedly so close to Rogue One in execution that it’s impossible not to compare to the superior 2016 execution.