Gareth Edwards‘ science fiction epic, The Creator, is a visual behemoth that deserves seeing, with its relevant and timely discussion on the role and developments of artificial intelligence becoming all too poignant as Hollywood strikes continue.
Whilst not always perfect in its storytelling, Gareth Edwards’ latest directorial and writing project is an evident celebration of the powers that visual effects can add to a story when the filmmaker at its helm understands how and when they can harness and enhance a story.
Establishing audiences within its alternative universe instantly in its tight exposition was immediately immersive, as its impressive blend of archive and fiction blurred the lines between our reality.
Newsreels of years gone by show robots, or simulants as the film calls them, living amongst us until war breaks out. Ongoing fighting blends the years into one until humans are nuked in Los Angeles, causing mass devastation and preventing any potential for recourse. As if documentarian in nature, The Creator presents this as fact, a truth undisputed, cementing the understanding that documentary reflects the truth. Coincidentally echoing a thematic touchpoint Edwards knowingly aimed to include ever since its working title of True Love.
Retreating to New Asia, the simulants regroup and, under the guidance of Nirmātā (Nepali for the Creator), form a supposed weapon to end the war for good. However, when army soldier Joshua (John David Washington) infiltrates their base alongside his wife Maya (Gemma Chan), he discovers that Nirmātā’s supposed weapon is a simulant child, played by Madeleine Yuna Voyles in her feature debut.
With a tear-jerking performance from Yuna Voyles, her simulant Alfie will no doubt position the actor in a similar stead to Hayley Joel Osment’s David from Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, setting her career on a fortuitous path as a rising star. The beauty in the simplicity of her delivery, wearing every emotion as though it were the first time discovering them, processing change as the mechanical cogs whir to make sense of the world at large is an astute execution, made all the more impressive by someone so young.
Still, Edwards’ world-building is a gorgeous and staggering undertaking. Where Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has found a resurgence of interest following the critically acclaimed spin-off Andor, there is no question that Edwards has applied a similar intensity with breathing life and creativity into his unique alternative world. Each simulant, decor, and scene art decoration from Wētā Workshop and Industrial Light & Magic delivers on Edwards’ vision, even if visually it appears Star Wars-adjacent.
Thematically, though, to deliver an original story, especially at a time of artificial intelligence conversations, where A.I. is winning art competitions alongside actors striking fair working conditions and protection against their likeness, feels perfectly timed and will, to its credit, be an excellent metaphor for the societal issues of today. Despite this, the film also manages to present an additional analogy. One alluded to with its intertitles.
Though the film is titled The Creator and, by proxy, regards itself with Nirmātā’s work, the film’s intertitles suggest more about Nirmātā than their work, as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is about the doctor rather than his creation. The intertitles present a more robust example of how we should reshift our perspectives about individuals or societal expectations more than the thematic of war, for one person may fit multiple definitions.
One person can be a creator, a child, and a friend all at once, never defined or limited solely by one. In a similar capacity, The Creator is a product of the sum of all its parts; insurmountably audacious and a testament of creativity.
The Creator will be available to watch exclusively in cinemas from 28 September.
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