“The Creator is Gareth Edwards’ masterpiece. The emotion, drama, scale, and overall feel make this one of the best films of the year.”
The Creator is director Gareth Edwards’ return after seven years away. His absence is due to factors such as the pandemic but finally, he is back doing what he’s best at: Bringing us top-quality movies. Edwards also co-scripts the movie with Chris Weitz, based on Edwards’ story. Featuring a cast that includes John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, and Allison Janney, the movie was shot on a budget of $80 million. For most films, that would just about cover the visual effects budget. For Gareth Edwards, it shows what an iconic, visionary filmmaker he truly is. But is the film something that is amongst the best films of the year or is it simply junk metal?
Amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, Joshua, a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife, is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war… and mankind itself.
Joshua and his team of elite operatives journey across enemy lines, into the dark heart of AI-occupied territory only to discover the world-ending weapon he’s been instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young child.
Welcome back, Gareth Edwards! How we’ve missed you! To put it quite simply, the film is exquisite. The acting, the minimalistic score, the scope, the vision, and the heart of the film make it a must-see. The sheer emotional content the film contains will grab you by the heartstrings and won’t let go. And believe me, you’ll need tissues before the end credits roll. It has been a long time since we’ve been treated to something like this. And it could be a while before we see something like this again.
The film looks and sounds amazing. The visuals are superb, the colors are vibrant, and the entire look of the film is wonderful. Okay, so you can see where Edwards got his ideas from for the film. But that hardly matters. This is a war film with so much emotion and heart, that it doesn’t feel like one. Just like Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That was a Star Wars film which felt like a war movie, but the heart it contained astounded us. The same applies here.
John David Washington leads the cast as Joshua. Joshua is a soldier, one whom we come to distrust early in proceedings. But as the movie progresses, we find ourselves drawn to him, for various reasons. For someone whom we are not sure we will like or follow, he comes across as a flawed man, a tragic figure. Washington gives his all here. Every feeling, every emotion, and every action that we see from Joshua resonates. And that is all down to Washington. He easily leads the adult cast here. And he’s not afraid to cry, to show his vulnerable side. By the finale, we find ourselves hoping he can get his happy ending.
Gemma Chan as Maya also plays her role well. Maya is Joshua’s wife, and after the opening, is seen only in flashbacks. But she haunts proceedings like a ghost watching us all from the side. Despite this, she lights up the screen whenever she appears. And has a part to play that we don’t see coming. Allison Janney as Colonel Howell comes across as a motherly, sympathetic and sad character. But it isn’t a spoiler to say she is one of the villains of the piece. Coldheartedly determined to destroy the A.I menace for past tragedies, she is so blinded by cold-blooded rage, that she doesn’t see the futility of her vendetta. Allison Janney is a fine actress and she displays her talents here.
RALPH INESON AND KEN WATANABE
Ralph Ineson as General Andrews is as nasty and as slimy as they come. Just like Howell, he is single-minded enough to attempt to wipe out the A.I and the humans that help and sympathise with them. Again like Howell, we spend our time hoping he will get his comeuppance by the final credits. Ineson gives a great performance in what is a slightly limited role. He appears near the beginning only to disappear until the third act. But his presence is felt throughout. Even when he is not on the screen, Ineson haunts proceedings, lingering like a spectre waiting to pounce.
Ken Watanabe as Harun is once again superb. As an A.I who fights against the humans coming to kill him and his entire race, Watanabe is someone who despite some violence towards Joshua, we come to love and cheer for. Watanabe’s screen time allows him to display his talents for all to see. Despite his faults, despite his hatred towards mankind, Harun is one character we all hope lives to see the finale, to stand tall once the dust has settled. As an actor, Watanabe excels himself here.
MADELEINE YUNA VOYLES
Not one of the fine, established, adult actors though can hold a candle to Madeleine Yuna Voyles. As Alphie, the A.I child that is the weapon Joshua and his squad are sent to destroy, the young actress has our hearts from the start. Her performance is one that is rare for someone of her years. The actress was 7 when filming took place but you’d never know it judging from her abilities on display here. Alphie is the A.I’s ultimate weapon in destroying and defeating mankind. But she doesn’t know it. She knows that her A.I companions wish to be free. She even mentions that she wants it for herself.
But deep down, she is almost like a human child. Evolving, learning, and trying to learn her place in this disruptive, violent world. We feel drawn to Alphie from the start. We want to throw our arms around her, to protect her, to get her away from the forces trying to kill her. A late revelation from her own kind makes us want to protect her even more. This is an inspired performance from Madeleine Yuna Voyles. Her gentleness, her innocent face, and her prowess against some heavyweight actors in the film shows she has a great career ahead of her. Also, judging by her performance here, it wouldn’t surprise me if she is in line for an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She really is that good.
What can I say about Gareth Edwards’ direction that I haven’t said already? Not much. There are no words to describe how brilliantly he returns to the director’s chair with this film. There isn’t a single wasted shot, frame or scene here. The way he handles proceedings, the easiness he has directed such an epic movie, and how he has handled his actors are extraordinary. Edwards has crafted a tale that not only stands out but is also one of the finest seen on a cinema screen for a long time. You can spot his influences all the way through the film, but that doesn’t distract us from seeing what is, in reality, a morality fairy tale.
The screenplay by Gareth Edwards and Chris Weitz is incredible. And neither shy away from pushing the envelope during the film. Just when you think you know where it is headed, it goes in a totally different direction, pulling us along with it. Again, not a single piece of dialogue is wasted, the story is so compelling, that we are swept up in the rush of it. At its heart is a topical subject, the subject of A.I in our everyday lives. The film opens with an old-style newsreel showing the creation of A.I, and how we came to depend on it, before showing us a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles, attributed to our A.I creations. So far, so Terminator. But while we think that the A.I is the villain, the cause of our destruction, we learn the truth.
It isn’t our A.I creations that are the problem, the cause of death and violence, it is the human race who is the problem. We are the aggressors. We are the cause of everything bad that happens during the film. Our created companions and enemies fight against us and kill us. But we have pushed them into doing this. It is our fear of what they MIGHT have done and can do to us that is the catalyst. The A.I’s in the film just want to be free, to grow and survive as we humans do. But we persist in hunting them down, eradicating them from the face of the planet. And that shows we haven’t learned from our history of what will come of such an action.
The score is by Hans Zimmer. Surprisingly, his score only contains around an hour of music. The score is very minimalistic and used sparsely throughout the film. But it is a terrific score, emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful. In the past, I have been critical of some of Zimmer’s later works. I cannot be critical here. The music he provides makes it almost as much of a character as the actors in the film. It accompanies every scene, everything we feel to tremendous effect. It is beautiful, haunting, and pitch-perfect.
The Creator is Gareth Edwards’ masterpiece. The emotion, drama, scale, and overall feel make this one of the best films of the year. There are no words to adequately describe what we see and feel here. From what could so easily have been a good science fiction film that would come and go, this is something we don’t see that often. Something that will live with us in our memories long after we have left the screen. I doubt we will see something like this again for a long time. Although some parts of what we see can’t be classed as original, we easily overlook this as we move forward. Shades of Apocalypse Now enter our minds at times. But again, we move past this with ease.
At times, we witness wholesale violence and destruction visited upon the A.I’s and their human friends. But we never feel jubilant seeing them be systematically wiped out. We feel nothing but sadness and shame at what we have done to them. One particular scene seeing the reaction of Alphie will have the audience in awe. And in tears. By the time the movie ends, many people will need tissues. But they will also have sore palms after they have finished applauding a film that touches so many nerves and emotions. With sentiments like the bond between father and child, a heartfelt message of hope, and a stunning visual and directorial style, you might as well give the film all the top movie awards now. Gareth Edwards has created something that will go down in history as one of the best films ever. In that regard, Gareth Edwards is the TRUE creator. A masterful film from a masterful director.
The Creator is in cinemas from Thursday, September 28th in the UK. And from September 29th in the United States.
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