The Creator: Digitizing the Soul

So, help me. I’m a sucker for brainy science fiction. 

Directed by Gareth Edwards, The Creator is an absolute treat for fans of science fiction. Featuring strong performances and a surprisingly emotional script (which Edwards co-wrote with About a Boy‘s Chris Weitz), the film hits on almost every level.

Set within a futuristic world where humanity wages war against a robotic army, The Creator tells the story of Joshua (John David Washington), an ex-special forces agent who has been broken by the death of his wife (Gemma Chan). When the American military gets word on the location of ‘the Creator’, the one responsible for the development of AI technology, Joshua is approached to join the team of operatives. With intel that suggests the Creator has designed a weapon that threatens all mankind, Joshua reluctantly agrees. However, when they finally cross enemy lines, Joshua discovers that the destruction of this weapon may be more complicated than he expected.

Visually, The Creator is absolutely stunning, especially in its IMAX presentation. With expansive landscapes and lush greenery, every setting feels immersive. Without question, Edwards has a clear vision for what he wants to communicate and he uses his CGI to augment the tone of his world. 

Throughout his career, John David Washington has shown a penchant to diversify the tone his projects. In doing so, he has allowed his skills as an actor to aid his performances, no matter what the genre. This serves him well in The Creator as his emotional journey is very much the core of the film. As Joshua, Washington keeps the film grounded, even in the midst of its sci-fi action. 

John David Washington as Joshua in 20th Century Studios’ THE CREATOR. Photo by Oren Soffer. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Admittedly, one can’t help but notice that Edwards borrows from a number of other successful sci-fi franchises in his world building. Stories like Blade RunnerDistrict 9, and even Edwards‘ greatest success, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story feel like they have seeds planted within the birth of The Creator. However, none of that should detract on how well-executed and timely the film feels. There’s simply a beauty within the soul of Creator that hasn’t been captured in sci-fi in sometime.

Coming at a time when our relationship with AI is only at its beginning, Creator feels as though it may be ripped right out of the headlines of today, even if it takes place 30 years in the future. In many ways, the film shows how much our relationship with technology continues to evolve. At the film’s outset, we are made to understand the unpredictable nature of technology and the threat that it poses to humanity. In the West, these bots are simply robotic toasters who, although programmed by human hands, remain empty shells. As a result, they remain expendable, without any moral complications to their extinction.

A scene still from 20th Century Studios’ THE CREATOR. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

As a result, the rallying cry remains that these bots are “not real“.

However, even though they’re viewed as dangerous by many, Creator suggests that the rest of the world sees value in these droids. More than the sum of their programming, these bots have evolved, revealing something more. There’s an intimacy and compassion within this artificial intelligence that counterbalances the de-evolved, war-mongering mindset of the human race. In doing so, The Creator uses this conflict to tap into the xenophobia that bubbles to the surface when we alienate others, treating them as less than human. 

Further, without giving anything away, Edwards manages to explore the depths of the soul. In this film, both humans and bots look beyond the physical world, exploring the existence of (and their role within) the afterlife. In essence, Creator celebrates the beauty of life but then questions what it means to reach heaven. Whether it’s on earth or beyond it, the film believes that heaven is a place that anyone should be able to reach, no matter how they are built. 

John David Washington as Joshua in 20th Century Studios’ THE CREATOR. Photo by Glen Milner. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

It’s this deeper inquest that makes The Creator more than another sci-fi epic. With sensitivity and spirituality, Edwards and Weitz take explore the ramifications of our AI-culture, including the potential threats and opportunities. But, in the process, they also begin to discover what makes us human.

The Creator is available in theatres on Friday, September 29th, 2023.

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