“She looks like a little girl now, but she’s growing. Whoever has that kid, wins the war.”McBride
Set in 2065, The Creator imagines a future where the West has banned use of AI following a nuclear attack and seeks to impose this decision on Asia, where robot “simulants” have been embraced. Gareth Edwards is brazen in drawing inspiration from a host of past science fiction films — most notably Blade Runner’s theme of hunted simulacra and whether they are alive (cheekily borrowing the line “more human than human”), along with Avatar’s military power viewing its might as right — yet he remixes these ideas into more than mere pastiche or homage, but a modern and thoughtful exploration of persisting fears regarding artificial intelligence. The Creator suggests that we are now conscious of our role in eradicating the neanderthals and are therefore fearful of the next threat like us. Edwards started out as a visual effects artist and the heavy use of VFX is not simply a flashy crutch but vital to the world building, using grounded, weathered technology to aid immersion as well as demonstrating the “othering” of the simulants in a similar way to District 9. The vast spaceship “Nomad” is an ever-present symbol in the sky of the West’s superior firepower and determination to eradicate the perceived threat — it is a clear metaphor for American colonial influence abroad, but it also makes for strange viewing just days after the Israel-Palestine conflict reignites, particularly with the film’s secondary theme of the harshness of war and destruction of innocence. Key to The Creator is the developing relationship between John David Washington as the conflicted hero and impressive newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles as the simulant child. Meanwhile Allison Janney provides a foe whose single-mindedness is understandable, contrasted with Ken Watanabe’s noble simulant guerrilla fighter. The Creator has an impressive sense of scale, aided by its numerous location shoots and a grandiose Hans Zimmer score. It is not without issues — the script is often clumsy with excessive expositional dialogue and reliance on contrivance to advance the story, but this is intelligent sci-fi that manages to create a world and tell a complete story within its 133-minute runtime. The result is the most satisfied I have felt when leaving a big budget sci-fi film for several years.