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The Creator (12A)

Cast: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Allison Janney
Genre: SciFi
Author(s): Chris Weitz, Gareth Edwards
Director: Gareth Edwards
Release Date: 28/09/2023
Running Time: 133mins
Country: US
Year: 2023

In a dystopian future, the elusive architect of an advanced AI has reportedly developed a weapon with the potential to end the war and wipe mankind off the face of the Earth. Former special forces operative Joshua leads a team of battle-hardened operatives into AI-occupied enemy territory with a simple brief: destroy this weapon. In the midst of grieving his missing wife, Joshua's allegiances are torn when he discovers that his target is an AI in the form of a six-year-old child android.

LondonNet Film Review

The Creator (12A) Film Review from LondonNet

Leveraging his background in visual effects, writer-director Gareth Edwards dazzled with his low budget 2010 debut, Monsters, embellished with digital trickery created in his bedroom. A fantastical film-making journey comes full circle via the rebooted Godzilla and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in an existential conflict between our warmongering species and simulant androids with friendly faces cloned from willing human donors. Shot in eight countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, The Creator paints hundreds of visual effects shots over live action to deliver plentiful eye-popping bang for the buck (80 million dollars – a steal by Hollywood standards)…

Edwards’ fourth film is epic in scope, bold in ambition but frequently limited in character development, hard coding a mysticism-steeped protector-ward dynamic reminiscent of the 1986 film The Golden Child into a dystopian future after rogue artificial intelligence has detonated a nuclear warhead in Los Angeles, vaporising more than a million innocent souls. The Creator malfunctions shy of greatness, working from a fragmented script co-written by Edwards and Chris Weitz that repurposes the rhetoric and supposedly righteous fury of the War On Terror following the September 11 attacks in a fictional mid-21st century setting.

The west, led by bombastic, grief-stricken America, has declared a ban on AI while the Republic of New Asia continues to develop technology to allow humans and robots to harmoniously co-exist. War between diametrically opposed regimes crescendos with the launch of the North American Orbital Military Air Defence battle station (Nomad), designed to hunt down the AI’s revered creator, known as Nirmata. US intelligence deduces Nirmata has fashioned a superweapon, codename Alpha-O, to destroy Nomad and seal humanity’s downfall. Battle-scarred American soldier Joshua (John David Washington), whose pregnant wife Maya (Gemma Chan) died during a bungled undercover mission to kill Nirmata, has intimate knowledge of the topography of the Republic of New Asia.

He is reactivated for a covert operation to destroy Alpha-O, led by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) and trusted lieutenant McBride (Marc Menchaca). The target turns out to be a six-year-old android (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) with the power to control electronic devices. Haunted by the death of his unborn child, Joshua defies orders to protect Alpha-O aka Alfie from termination. The traitorous soldier ventures deep into AI-controlled territory with US forces in hot pursuit.

The Creator is slickly engineered and frequently spectacular, including one terrifically macabre sequence involving bipedal suicide bomber robots. Washington’s flawed military man is less interesting than the mechanised protagonists around him, softening the predictable emotional wallop of a frenzied final act involving the Death Star-lite Nomad killing machine. “We can’t go to heaven because you’re not good and I’m not a person,” concludes cherubic Alfie after a lesson from Joshua about the afterlife. Are we in heaven through Edwards’ lens? Not quite.

– Jo Planter

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