Aesthetically, there’s a lot to love about Gareth Edwards' The Creator. With impressive production design, creatively-rendered androids and outstanding special effects (both small & spectacular), there’s nary a moment when the film isn’t visually compelling.
But as they say, looks aren’t everything. Storywise, The Creator isn’t bad, but it is sort of derivative and not nearly as emotionally involving as one might expect from the concept (and the trailers). In the future, artificial intelligence has evolved to the point where androids are sentient. But following the nuclear destruction of Los Angeles, the United States has declared war on them. Most renegade AI’s are now hiding in “New China,” so the military constructs a massive orbting ship called NOMAD to seek out and destroy them.
Ex-Army sergeant Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) is recruited to search for Nirmata, the enemy’s enigmatic leader believed to have created Alpha-O, an AI capable of destroying NOMAD, thus threatening the human race. Taylor doesn’t actually care about that. He just wants to find his wife, Maya (Gemma Chan), an AI rebel “terrorist” believed to be Nirmata’s daughter and presumed to have died during a NOMAD strike years before.
|Kids these days...in one ear and out the other.|
At its core, The Creator has an interesting story to tell, replete with a nifty reveal near the end, which helps compensate for the whole man vs. machine plotline we’ve seen countless times before (particularly stories where androids reveal more humanity than their human antagonists). However, none of the characters are all that engaging. Despite efforts to establish everything Taylor has lost during the war, we never truly feel his sense of desperation. Nor does his relationship with Alphie convey enough of a father-daughter bond for any significant emotional investment in them (due more to the perfunctory dialogue than the performances).
Still, The Creator is fairly enjoyable. It’s a visually remarkable film with plenty of action and the usual fiery, destructive climax we’ve come to expect from big-budget sci-fi. One might also appreciate the increasingly rare attempt to create something on this scale that isn’t a sequel or part of a franchise. Just don’t expect it to be all that affecting.
EXTRA KIBBLESTRUE LOVE: MAKING THE CREATOR - An hour-long documentary that, to be frank, is more interesting than the movie itself.