The CREATOR Review: Can Humanity and A.I really co-exist

The Creator

The Creator is a Grand Scale sci fi epic tied together by the intricate performances of its two leads and a timely question of how do we define what’s real?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the film, we are repeatedly told the simulants ‘Are not real, it’s just programming’ but aren’t we all subject to programing from birth? How to think, how to feel about things, what to like, how to act etc whether it be via religion, parents, or society, we are all the products of programming and when we stray from the rules we have been set, we are seen as malfunctioning or bad.

The Creator
Ken Watanabe as Harun Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The CREATOR is a 2023 sci fi epic directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One).  In this future, A.I has been developed to such an advanced level that it is able to live, work and function alongside humanity, almost as equals. When a Nuclear incident wipes out Los Angeles, all fingers point at Artificial Intelligence being responsible, leading America and the west to declare war on all A.I.

The Eastern nations of the world on the other hand continue to develop A.I and allow them to live and function within their society. America patrols the skies with a massive aircraft called ‘NOMAD’, capable of targeting villages, towns or cities they believe are harbouring A.I and obliterate them with a hail of missiles.

The West learn of a top-secret weapon being developed by the A.I to that could change the tide of the war by destroying Nomad. John David Washington stars as a US special forces agent, working towards the termination of all Artificial intelligence who is sent it to learn of this weapons location.

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The NOMAD from 20th Century Studios’ THE CREATOR. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The CREATOR is the type of big idea grand scale sci fi we don’t often see these days outside major franchises. While we have seen man vs machine many times before, this is an approach we haven’t seen often. The A.I aren’t power crazed entities, trying to eliminate humanity to solidify their dominance. They are beings fighting for peace and their own survival once their creators deemed them undesirable.

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The world they inhabit feels real and ‘lived in’. The A.I themselves are split between the more mechanical looking and those designed to mimic humanity closely. While they have human faces, they have cylindrical holes in their heads, showing their mechanics. This serves as an easy visual reminder to the audience to differentiate between who are humans and who are Simulant A.I.

Like almost all sci fi films there are elements that don’t work as well or that could be deconstructed if you thought too much about it but that’s the nature of the beast when you are creating imaginary worlds. There was an advert in the movie encouraging people to donate their likenesses to A.I which is a nice touch. I would have liked more things to show how regular people feel not just about Artificial Intelligence but how the rest of society functions. Sometimes the small touches in sci fi films help solidify the reality. 

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

I’m reminded of Tom Cruise walking past advertising posters in minority report with adverts that change based on who you are. Or the receptionist in Total Recall painting her nails with just one touch. They are small intricate details that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things but really make the world real. While Gareth Edwards got things on the grand scale right, I feel the smaller details were missing which would have really sold it more.

While the ‘Simulants’ (Artificial Intelligence) are portrayed sympathetically (there’s not one crazy terminator amongst them), this is still a film about war with both sides battling hard and savagely for their survival. The action is solid and brutal when it needs to be. It has all the lights flash and action you would expect from a movie of this scale.

But much of its success rests on the relationship between Joshua (John David Washington) and the A.I simulant child ‘Alfie’ (Madeleine Yuma Voyles), who is believed to be the saviour of all Artificial Intelligent life.  I’ve been reminded recently that we have seen a plethora of films and TV shows with this particular trope, the skilled yet reluctant hero protecting a young child. In some ways it has become quite worn, but the questions of whether she is actually real or a life worth protecting give it a fresh interesting twist.

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Madeline Voyles as Alphie in 20th Century Studios’ THE CREATOR. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The question of Artificial Intelligence and how much influence we allow it to have in our society couldn’t be timelier, so this movie has arrived at a great moment to fuel those debates. But while many have focused on the horror predictions of movies like Terminator, The Creator differentiates itself by turning things on their head. What if we are actually the ‘bad guys’ the aggressors in the future scenario?

While it does feel like a fresh approach, the movie does draw inspiration from films like Steven Spielberg’s A.I and the original Blade Runner novel ‘Do Androids dream of electric Sheep?’ If Artificial Intelligence continues to install itself in every aspect of our lives, how will we treat them? Like objects, slaves to do our bidding, like pets or at some point as equals? The more interesting question I think is if an intelligence starts thinking for itself, making decisions, and fighting for its survival, Is it still artificial? Like me, the movie may leave you with more questions than answers.

The CREATOR is in cinemas now

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