With artificial intelligence regularly in the news and A.I. films becoming more regular. The Creator still feels incredibly fresh and original, it’s jaw-droppingly distinctive visuals are flawless and with CGI being heavily criticised recently, what makes it all the more astounding is it’s done on an $80 million budget, movies with three times this budget have failed in comparison.
The film begins with a prologue based in the 2060’s humanity has made the mistake of letting artificial intelligence take control of its defence systems and without apparent provocation or warning Los Angeles is attacked with a nuclear weapon.
The aftermath leads the US to reject A.I. but the continent of ‘New Asia’ doesn’t, they believe it’s part of human evolution and continue their work, as they develop humanoids known as ‘simulants’. The A.I. population consists of fully robotic machines that make up the police and armed forces. The simulants have their own communities. They have even looked after human orphans, show compassion and want to be free.
The US military led by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) makes it clear they are not going after the people of New Asia, just its A.I. inhabitants. But that doesn’t stop them roaming their lands with the mammoth spaceship NOMAD. With its God like presence, it rains down missiles, while their hulking tanks unsystematically mow down villages in its path.
Joshua (John David Washington) is initially sent to New Asia to infiltrate the scientists and laboratories to deliver information on the elusive ‘creator’. He however falls in love with Maya (Gemma Chan) and after witnessing her become a victim of one of NOMADS bombings, he abandons the cause.
Some years later he’s pulled back into the fight by hard-ass Colonel Howell, whilst dangling a piece of intel that Maya may actually still be alive, she convinces him to return East to find and destroy a secret doomsday device developed by The Creator. A powerful weapon, in the form of a simulant child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
Joshua reluctantly becomes a father figure to the ‘child’ and as powerful as she is, she’s completely oblivious to her role in the struggle and has all the innocence you would expect from a child that age. Leading Joshua on an emotional arc, as his journey unfolds he starts to see the humanity in the machines.
The Creator is breathlessly fast, you cannot take your eyes off it, as the locations switch from rural Asian farming communities to bustling futuristic cityscapes and the huge military run NOMAD station.
The performances are superb, John David Washington is emerging as a strong leading man, he has all the charm and charisma of his father, yet still with the ability to hold that charisma whilst playing a vulnerable, emotional role like this.
The young Madeleine Yuna Voyles is fantastic as the child weapon ‘Alfie’. She is the films most important machine, yet her displays of inquisitiveness and emotion are gut-wrenching. She regularly probes Joshua about heaven and humanity, we see her fall in love with her protector, pine for her ‘mother’ and out of every character, she is the one that shows us what is it to be human, in this world where the robots often have more humanity than people.
The Creator is among some of the best sci-fi I’ve seen in recent years, it’s beautifully crafted, the design, the visuals it’s all astonishing and how this was all done on an $80 million budget beggar’s belief.
Gareth Edwards is establishing himself as a blockbuster director, this is an ambitious project, to make something that feels fresh and immersive, in what is becoming a saturated topic in A.I…hats off!
The Creator is showing in select theaters from September 28 and has its wide release September 29.