Jamie Skinner reviews Gareth Edwards' The Creator: A US sergeant (John David Washington) is tasked with destroying an AI superweapon, only to find it takes the form of a child (Madeline Yuna Voyles).
The Creator: Cert - 12, Run-time - 2 hour 13 minutes, Director - Gareth Edwards
The opening news reel of The Creator details the rapid development of robots and AI. Alongside the government and military leaders it insists that no matter how human they can look, or the personalities they may show, they have no proper feelings. It’s all programming. Even John David Washington’s Sergeant Joshua tells us that they don’t die, they just turn off, or go on standby. So why should we care about them?
It’s something that co-writer (alongside Chris Weltz) and director Gareth Edwards tries to make a point of throughout as the AI characters seem to show more emotion than the humans. Humans who feel less in the picture than the artificial intelligence and therefore don’t have a huge emotional connection with the viewer either. The two forces have been at war for many years after, with a potential end in sight - however the robots have a superweapon which needs destroying first.
Joshua is sent on a mission to destroy the weapon only to discover that it takes the form of a child (Madeline Yuna Voyles). With his superiors (led by Allison Janney) on his tail he decides to take Alphie to her creator. The pair travel through a visually interesting world, fleshed out through the cinematography, visual effects and production design. Like with the narrative you can see the occasional sci-fi influences playing into the piece - Blade Runner and District 9 appear to be big draws - while still having a good deal of creativity on display.
However, the visuals aren’t solely enough to keep you engaged in a narrative where it takes some time to form some form of emotional connection with the characters. More focus is put onto the world than forming that key bond which is needed to properly bring effect to the story. Add to that the fact that the villains crash in to introduce another action set-piece - increasing in scale each time - to stop the protagonists from having even the briefest of breaks there’s little room for direct dialogue.
Yet, there’s certainly a thrill to the action, especially as things develop in the second half where there feels to be slightly more engagement. It’s something which could be used in the final 15 minutes if it wasn’t condensed into that space of time; the climactic sequence feels as if it could be an entire act with the developments that it wants to make, and the shift that it makes.
There’s a solid film within The Creator, shown through a number of good ideas both within the narrative and visual design. However, there’s not always the emotional connection with the characters to carry them through, despite some growth in the second half. The action has effect, especially in the grander battles and chases, but you just wish the film spent a bit more time with the protagonists outside of them to avoid narrative stumbles.
Jamie Skinner, three stars ***