In theaters now is the semi-dystopian, near-future thriller “The Creator,” starring John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Allison Janney and Madeline Yuna Voyles, and directed by Gareth Edwards. Set against the back drop of a world dramatically changed by artificial intelligence, “The Creator” considers the essential humanity of all things and the inhumanity brought out by conflict.
Opening in 2065, “The Creator” envisions a reality where AI was enveloped too quickly into society, resulting in a nuclear attack that destroyed much of Los Angeles. While the West seeks to wipe out the influence of AI, Eastern nations further integrate and rely on AI simulants, leading to war. Joshua (Washington) formerly embedded in a village sympathetic to AI, comes to loathe both sides after his wife is killed by the West. Five years after her death, he is recalled by the United States to join a mission led by Howell (Janney) that would eliminate a threat to their largest weapon, and give him the chance to reunite with his wife. During the mission, Joshua finds himself caring for a child simulant with the potential to find his wife and end the conflict.
“The Creator” was a gripping film, focused not on the theoretical dangers of AI, but on the actual horrors wrought by humanity. While the is movie is best described as a dystopian thriller, there are elements of the film that are weird and goofy enough to keep it from being a slog. These elements of oddity and levity echo the same tone that Edward’s brought to his work on “Rogue One.” The filmmakers also manage to strike a balance between a futuristic setting and a current debate. Though there are intermittent scenes of highly imagined cities, much of the film takes place in rural settings that give a more moderate view of how a future with AI will look.
While the performances in the film, particularly from Washington and Janney, are impressive, the standouts of the film are the lighting, cinematography, sound and score. Scored by Hans Zimmer, “The Creator” uses music and sound, or lack thereof, to enforce the impact of what’s happening on screen. Further, the film’s lighting and imagery is masterfully done to create starkly different tones and settings, without falling into hacky or reductive depictions of rural Asian villages or hyperfuturistic cities.
“The Creator” was a highly enjoyable watch, and is a thoughtfully collectivist look at a topic more commonly seen through a capitalist lens. “The Creator” is in theaters now.