Review by James Lindorf
With “Ahsoka” doing well on streaming, Disney and 20th Century Studios decided to bring some sci-fi to the big screen with “The Creator.” The latest project from writer and director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One, Godzilla) features a stellar cast led by John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Gemma Chan (Eternals), Ken Watanabe (“Inception”) and Academy Award® winner Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), with music from Hans Zimmer, and VFX by Industrial Light & Magic. “The Creator” is now playing in theaters everywhere.
Forty years from now, the United States is locked into a violent war, not against a foreign country or beings from another planet but against the forces of artificial intelligence. This war has cost Joshua (Washington), an ex-special forces agent, everything: his parents, his wife Maya (Chan) and their unborn child, and a literal arm and leg. Barely surviving, consumed with grief, Joshua is finally offered hope when Colonel Howell (Janney) shows him a video of a woman who may be Maya. To get to her, he must join Howell’s mission to cross deep into enemy territory and kill The Creator. The elusive AI architect is believed to have developed a weapon capable of ending the war in favor of the machines. Joshua’s beliefs and prejudices are challenged when the world-ending weapon he’s instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young girl (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
Whether or not the story will strike at the heart of audiences is to be determined. Still, one thing that cannot be questioned is the overall look and design of “The Creator.” From location scouting, to set and costume design, to the visual effects, “The Creator” has the appearance of a film that costs at least twice its 80 million dollar budget. This feat is even more impressive when you learn that there were two cinematographers who did not work on set together. Connecting through emails, text, and phone calls, they managed to craft a movie with a singular vision with the guidance of Edwards. Edwards has high hopes of “The Creator” being the next sci-fi epic. However, its release date may hint that the studio lacks some faith in its ability to win over audiences. The summer blockbuster window is closed, school is in session, and we haven’t made it to award season yet. This time of year is typically slated for horror movies, family fare, and projects with low expectations.
“The Creator” has a good cast and a great look; all it needs is a solid story to break the release date trend, and then Edawards can sit back and watch the money roll in. Unfortunately, Edwards was so focused on making a budget blockbuster that he and co-writer Chris Weitz (Rogue One, About a Boy) had little time to polish the plot. Instead of one cohesive story, “The Creator” presents as a series of loosely connected set pieces. Beautiful action-packed set pieces, but without that connection, it is emotionless and fails to truly excite. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that instead of a road trip movie where two people with opposing viewpoints bond over their similarities at its core, “The Creator” feels more like a war film. The number of deaths alone would easily make the movie R-rated if it weren’t for the lack of blood. Voyles is adorable and is given some of the standard precocious moments, like refusing to turn off the TV and cursing. Unfortunately, it takes too long to get to her and too long for her to be an active character and not just an object being fought over.
“The Creator” is a near-perfect film with so many strengths it is easy to get caught up in what is unfolding on screen. You can see the inspiration from movies like “Children of Men,” “Independence Day,” and most notably “District 9.” However, “The Creator” lacks the desperation, the rousing speech, and the connection that makes those films special. The missing ingredient is heart. There was a lack of care for the characters. Most of them serve as nothing more than fodder, and for that reason, “The Creator” appears destined to impress in the moment and quickly be forgotten at a score of 3.5 out of 5
Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Adventure
Director: Gareth Edwards
Producer: Gareth Edwards, Kiri Hart, Jim Spencer, Arnon Milchan
Writer: Gareth Edwards, Chris Weitz
Release Date: September 29th, 2023
Runtime: 2h 13m
Distributor: 20th Century Studios
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