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Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

“The Creator” review

POSTER+%7C+20th+Century+Studios
POSTER | 20th Century Studios

“The Creator” is a science fiction film written and directed by Gareth Edwards and stars John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson and Allison Janey. It is the fourth film to be directed by Edwards, who had previously directed “Godzilla (2014)” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The film takes place during an ongoing future war between the human race and artificial intelligence. It follows an ex-special forces agent recruited to hunt down and eliminate “The Creator,” the elusive architect of advanced AI.

“The Creator” couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time. After nearly five months of striking, the Writers Guild of America reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, effectively ending the 2023 Writers Strike. Demands included safeguards against artificial intelligence. The pairing of Gareth Edwards’ apocalyptic creative vision seen in “Godzilla” and the timely subject matter sounds like a match made in heaven. However, with a topic as morally complex as this, fulfilling that creative vision is ambitious. Execution is everything. A filmmaker could have the greatest concept in the world for a film, but if there’s something off in the editing, writing and performances, it can stick out. It would be disingenuous to argue that “The Creator” had an execution anywhere close to perfection. Still, the ideas germinating at the base of Edwards’ script are compelling. 

Edwards is torn between his distrust of rapid automation and his innate fear of human nature. Humans and robots are both written in a uniquely brutal way, each group committing various atrocities. Edwards develops the opposing sides of this fictional war skillfully and compassionately. There comes a point in the film where the ideas presented by Edwards become so philosophically dense that I couldn’t help but wait in anticipation to see how the film would end. Legendary director of photography Greig Fraser built this on a lush visual style (“Dune,” “The Batman”), capturing the gorgeous Thailand setting with an immeasurable amount of elegance.

As an outline of ideas, the screenplay would be highly regarded as the best of the decade, but trouble arrives when the audience must fill in the blanks between those ideas. Most of the film depicts the near future as a synthetic circle of hell, built around a culture rooted in dread (a la “District 9” and “RoboCop.”) The bleakness of the world is the reason for the story in the first place. Edwards relieves the tension built up over the first half of the film’s runtime by undercutting significant dramatic moments with flat jokes. So much work was put into the atmosphere of despair and paranoia, but unnecessary humor cut it down. Allison Janey is a supremely talented actress who, unfortunately, read some of the most conventional and cliched lines of the decade. John David Washington gives another excellent performance that outclasses the level of dialogue on the page, presenting a whirlwind of emotions, and even Sturgill Simpson transforms his character from a shallow plot device into a complicated human being trying to survive in an impersonal and cold world. The interactions between these actors are so riveting they often outshine the action sequences of the movie, which are very ordinary.

The ending has divided critics and audiences alike, and for good reason. I think that Edwards felt the pressure to wrap the film up with a clear ending, and I think it ended up diluting the message of the film by not leaving the ending ambiguous. It comes down to trusting the audience to come to their own conclusions about what the story means, and for whatever reason, that was not the plan for the ending of “The Creator.” As a result, a graceful piece of ambiguous sci-fi is corrupted into a sappy hero’s journey.

“The Creator” contains a unique visual style that helps to elevate a script that includes a variety of thought-provoking ideas limited by conventional dialogue and story beats in order to cram a story larger than Hollywood into the trappings of a Hollywood blockbuster. The result is a consistently entertaining science fiction film that will likely scratch an itch for an original science fiction story. The story is accessible, fairly coherent, and contains some exciting subtext for those willing to look deeper than the surface-level story beats. Ultimately, I would recommend “The Creator” to anyone craving a non-IP-based science fiction story that maintains its absorbing narrative throughout a speedy two-hour runtime. The concept is never fully realized to its potential. Still, I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t recognize Gareth Edwards’ ambition as something that is absent in the modern-day studio system, and a solid creative vision will always earn extra credit with me.

 

Final Verdict: 3/5

About the Contributor
William Overbo
William Overbo, Staff Reporter
Will is a senior staff reporter, and this year is his first year on The Viewer. Awards: Best of SNO - The downfall of ELA education
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