The Creator is set in 2070, 15 years after AI denoted a nuclear warhead in Los Angeles, titled Ground Zero in the film. The disaster resulted in the Western countries banning AI, however, many East and South Asian countries maintain a strong relationship with AI. Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) is part of the United States military, on a mission to find the “Nirmata,” a Hindu word for “The Creator,” believed to be the engineer behind the development of AI. During his search, he spends time undercover and falls in love with Maya (Gemma Chan), but when he is revealed to be a United States officer, he loses Maya, causing Taylor to leave the search behind. Years later, he rejoins the military to search for Nirmata’s new weapon, Alpha O (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), in hopes of finding Maya. The story then follows Taylor as he uncovers the weapon and the consequences that come with it.
The film is essentially pro-AI and many critics took the film as incredibly average storytelling, however, the emotional pull is concrete even with a weak script. One of the highlights of the movie is the relationship between Taylor and Alpha O, nicknamed Alphie. This relationship is what carries the film as the father-daughter-like bond was prevalent both on screen and off screen, according to Edwards. John David Washington, as Joshua Taylor, delivers a compelling performance even with a lackluster script, delivering every emotion from tears, anger, relief, and joy, his character is truly tested throughout all acts of the film. This performance stands out largely because Taylor is the most developed character whereas other characters like Maya, lack the backstory that fully motivates the character’s actions. That being said, Maya is removed from the story for a majority of the film which is an unfortunate waste of Gemma Chan, yet unlike many other science fiction films, there are other female characters of importance. Alpha O is of greatest importance to the plot and Alison Janey plays a supporting role that represents the power of the United States and their relentless pursuit of destroying AI.
While the film has its issues, it is an original story, utilizing a smaller scale budget, was filmed on location, includes awesome cinematography, and features stunning visual effects. The Creator was filmed in Thailand, which contributes to the unique look. Before its release, Gareth Edwards described the film as Apocalypse Now (1979) meets Blade Runner (1982). Filming on location along with the themes portrayed through the relationships between humanity and AI delivers these similarities sharply.
The budget for the film was close to $80 million which is on the smaller considering the budgets for large Marvel films ranging anywhere from $150 million to $365 million. To deliver a film with such breathtaking visuals and effects as this is a stride to take note of. The production process included filming everything on location and then layering the “science fiction” on top of it. The low budget also resulted in “guerilla filmmaking” tactics. At the live-screened event, Edwards revealed that one scene features physicists running through a field after being asked to use one of their labs as a filming location. At first, the physicists were hesitant, however, after finding out Edwards directed Rogue One (2016)they were happy to agree, as long as they could be included.
The originality of The Creator is something that separates it from several other science fiction films. Even with its flat script, the emotional pull of the characters and the beauty of the story world make this film worth watching. With the increasing presence of AI in reality, the film has the potential to become a “sleeper hit” as it brings up several themes that parallel modern times.