In the alternate world of The Creator movie, robotic engineering has occurred faster and further than in our own. Robots have become artificially intelligent and have unique individual personalities.
They have taken on jobs at every level of society from food workers to police to military. But when Los Angeles is destroyed by a nuclear missile launch by a rogue artificial intelligence, society is upended.
The United States bans all robots and AI. They take things a step further by hunting down robots living in Asia where they are still welcomed and integrated into society. Utilizing a massive ship in space, the US vows to hunt down robots wherever they try to hide.
Their main target is someone dubbed “The Creator,” who is responsible for the creation of the AI. Joshua is a special agent who is tasked with hunting down The Creator, but when word arises of a new weapon developed by the robots, Joshua is asked to track it down.
However, when he does, he discovers that the weapon is a robotic child. While the child robot has a disarming appearance, its true purpose and origin will upend not only the world but Joshua personally.
Director Gareth Edwards continues his run as one of the more intriguing sci-fi directors working today. After kicking off the Godzilla franchise and the tumultuous yet well-received Rogue One, Gareth returns with an original sci-fi film he wrote and directed with The Creator.
He shoots for everything I want to be seeing on the big screen now – original films rather than remakes or adaptations, the sci-fi genre, and world building on a massive scale without a massive budget. Edwards paves the way for other filmmakers looking to follow in his footsteps and create their own original sci-fi films.
That world building is a big part of the fun of The Creator for me. It’s interesting seeing robots integrated in our world and doing everyday tasks. It feels very Star Wars-like in the sense that robots are an everyday thing like a toaster, yet they also have personalities of their own.
Are they alive or are we projecting our own emotions onto them? Is programming the equivalent of a soul? Scrutinizing this world becomes a thought provoking exercise.
The world of The Creator movie is also a strange mix of rural farms and Blade Runner-esque cities. The designs of the buildings, vehicles, and ships it an interesting mix of the familiar and the futuristic.
John David Washington continues his run as one of the more intriguing young actors today. Between Tenet and The Creator, he’s building quite a sci-fi resume.
As Joshua, he has a lot to explore as an actor. He’s torn between hating the robots yet growing close to the child-like robot. He’s torn between his duty to his country and his love for his wife. He’s torn between his mission to save the world and how best to do that. There’s a lot for Washington to work with here.
He’s paired well with Madeleine Yuna Voyles as Alphie. She’s young and innocent, but you can tell there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Don’t let the cartoon-watching fool you – Alphie isn’t your average kid or robot.
Allison Janney is also excellent as Colonel Howell. Early on her motivations for hunting the robots is firmly established and you never feel like she’s the real villain. Filmmakers always want to have a sympathetic antagonist, and here Janney achieves that.
While The Creator is an original film, I feel like it maybe could have distanced itself a bit further from some of the other more familiar sci-fi worlds. If I showed you a scene of the city, you might understandably think it was from Blade Runner. Or if I showed you a scene with some of the robots, you might think it was from Star Wars or even Chappie.
It would have been good to find a way to give it more of a unique look, but maybe that is easier said than done with a limited budget and so much great sci-fi design already out there.
I also felt some of the subtle messages in The Creator movie were not so subtle. Showing U.S. tanks and soldiers invading small Asian villages, burning huts, and shooting Asian freedom fighters was maybe a little too “on the nose.” I think you can maybe have a Vietnam allegory that’s a little less blatant.
The Creator is a film that you’ll find yourself thinking about well after leaving the theater. But upon additional scrutiny, I found parts of the story didn’t seem to hold up. For example, if A.I. was created around the 1950s in this alternate world, then why were they searching for a “Creator” in 2065, the year this is set? What good would it be to find the Creator when the A.I. genie is already out of the bottle?
The big finale has a lot of “but what abouts” as well. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but for a movie so grounded in reality the story needs to hold up to greater scrutiny.
Before going into The Creator I saw glowing reviews and high praise saying it was the best sci-fi film in decades. The bar was set impossibly high. While I did enjoy The Creator, I didn’t think it was as good as the ads led me to believe. I think general audiences will similarly find it to be “OK.” But with little competition at the box office, I hope it has a long run and inspires more sci-fi movies in the future.
I was able to see No One Will Save You and The Creator within a few days of each other. With two original low-budget sci-fi movies hitting simultaneously, it’s a good time to be a fan of the genre. While I think The Creator is over-hyped, I do recommend seeing it on the big screen and I’m excited to see what Gareth Edwards does next.
THE CREATOR MOVIE REVIEW SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10
Disney’s 20th Century Studios will release The Creator in theaters on Friday, September 29, 2023. The film is rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and strong language.
Scott Chitwood has been writing about film online since 1995. He is a co-founder of TheForce.Net, IGN Movies, and the Houston Film Critics Society. Scott wrote for ComingSoon until joining Vital Thrills in 2020. Scott is also publisher of Red 5 Comics and lives in Houston, TX.