Happy New Year! A new year and a brand-new start for movies and television shows. What better way to start 2024 than by reviewing a movie from last year known as The Creator? A sci-fi film posing as a warning sign for Hollywood to stop using AI for movies and ideas before entertainment becomes soulless. I was interested in this movie for a while. I was excited to watch something original, yet couldn’t help but feel somewhat conflicted. I will explain the reason why after I get past the synopsis of this movie.
In the year 2070, America and its Western allies are waging a war against rogue A.I. robots in New Asia after they allegedly nuked Los Angeles ten years prior. Ex-soldier Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) is recruited for a special mission to locate and destroy a super-weapon that could end the war in exchange for a possible reunion with his wife Maya (Gemma Chan) who is allegedly alive among the robot resistance in New Asia led by Harun (Ken Watanabe). The problem is that “The Weapon” is in the form of a robot child named Alphie (Madaleine Yuna Yolpes), prompting Taylor to embark on a soul-changing journey to possibly rekindle his romance and become swept up on the robots’ side of the war.
Here’s where I am conflicted with this movie. It’s a derivative of the ‘traumatized male character becomes surrogate father’ trope that’s been done too many times. T2: Judgment Day, The Last of Us, Logan, and The Mandalorian are sources that this movie borrows heavily in this movie. Not to mention that the main character switches loyalties similar to James Cameron’s Avatar franchise a la Jake Sully. It may feel timely enough due to Hollywood threatening to use AI to replace people’s jobs, but it’s nothing that we’ve seen before done any differently.
While Washington and Chan give pretty good performances as both Taylor and Maya, their characters feel one-dimensional. Especially Taylor who is no different than Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine or Joel from The Last of Us. A broken man who lost everything, sidelined to a thank less job until he gets recruited for a job that will force him to become a surrogate father figure to a kid with powers. Yolpes also gave a decent performance as Alphie, but we’ve seen this character archetype already done a lot. Watanabe’s Harun was fine, but it still feels one-dimensional for me to care. Much of Chan’s character is practically the emotional anchor for the Washington’s Taylor and Yolpes’ Alphie which there were pretty good scenes that were very empathetic. The villains are standard cardboard copy depiction humanity from James Cameron’s Avatar who have a massive hard-on for wanting to hate and destroy and sometimes commit atrocities that make them irredeemable.
The visuals in the movie were great and cool to look at. It has that going since it is directed by Gareth Edwards, who directed Godzilla (2014) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The visuals unfortunately, can’t hide the fact that it was speed-running through the story like Sonic the Hedgehog. There was no time to digest what had happened in certain scenes which became noticeable. I loved the world-building in this movie where humanity developed AI to help society until an event like a nuclear detonation in LA made the United States and NATO start treating them like the Na’vi or Apes. Kind of hilariously ironic in movies how humanity starts hating and wanting to eradicate a species they’ve intentionally or unintentionally created. Well… to quote Andy Serkis’ Ceasar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, “Human will not forgive”. Well…except there’s one line of dialogue Watanabe’s Harun explains how the war started. I won’t spoil it but when it’s explained, then it makes this entire fictional conflict pointless.
The Creator is a ‘mid’ level sci-fi adventure that is visually entertaining to watch but narratively unoriginal. It has thought-provoking themes similar to Blade Runner about humanity’s relationship with artificial intelligence. How AI people are becoming more human than humans. Coupled together with exploration of grief, religion and redemption. It is also a timely movie about keeping the human element from being phased out by Hollywood executives who are trying to use AI to cut corners. I wanted to like this movie, but having seen all of these tropes being reused is conflicting. I do not hate this movie but it feels like we could have done something much more different than retread the same thing over and over again.