If you have been following my reviews for any amount of time you know I am a bit of a tough sell when it comes to the sci-fi genre. A lot of it can get too bogged down by world building and lore I don’t care about and forget the emotional core to the story. I was worried that would be the case with Gareth Edwards’ new original sci-fi film The Creator. It’s not perfect but the relationship at its center carried me through the weak sections and I found it to be one of the best movies of 2023.
The story is set 50 years in the future where AI and man are at war after a nuclear explosion took out a million humans. John David Washington plays Joshua Taylor a special forces operative who is take down the AI. His wife Maya, played by Gemma Chan, is pregnant and the 2 have a deep and abiding love for each other that is the motivating force for Joshua in the story. They aren’t together long but the chemistry was so believable between the two that I bought his choices throughout the film.
I don’t want to spoil much more but basically Joshua becomes responsible for an AI child that is also a weapon and all the while he is putting together clues concerning his wife an her disappearance. It seems like some people were underwhelmed by this script but I thought it did what it had to do to give the character motivation and an emotional connection to his wife and the child that gave hope and meaning to the action.
Speaking of the action that is more where I had issues with the film. Edwards’ gets a little too explosion happy with a giant ball of fire being the solution to most problems and the ending to most scenes. They start to lose their impact when they are happening ever few minutes. It also does get confusing on what exactly the little girl’s powers are and what Joshua needs to do to protect her (and why he was picked over everyone else to help her.)
Nevertheless, The Creator looks great and I honestly expect some convoluted elements in a sci-fi film like this. The score by Hans Zimmer was supplemented by lots of “Clair de Lune” segments which was an unusual choice for this genre (you’d expect something more synthesized like in the Blade Runner films).
I personally enjoyed The Creator more than the Blade Runner films or the recent Dune because I cared more about the relationships at its core. They felt real and drew me into the story, made me invested on what was going to happen next. Some have compared The Creator to Edwards’ film Rogue One but that didn’t have the romance at its center to draw me into the film. It just had characters I didn’t care about that didn’t have a meaningful connection to each other. Both Joshua’s relationship with Maya and the little girl are more moving than anything I got in Rogue One. It’s also really impressive what Edwards’ did on a very small $80 million budget. If you liked the recent Avatar: the Way of Water I bet you will like this. They are both immigrant stories with relationships at their core and I found both to be very moving and visually dazzling experiences.
8 out of 10
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