“When I was a kid, there was an original epic sci-fi or fantasy film every week – I’ve missed that”: Gareth Edwards on The Creator
Gareth Edwards’s The Creator is a sci-fi action thriller deeply rooted in the traditions of the 80s and 90s, a time when millennials of this writer’s milieu were coming of age
Indeed, the director himself recalls watching Star Wars as a kid as something of a religious experience, seeing on-screen a fantasy world not unlike ours that seeped into his subconscious and lingered in the mind well after leaving the theatre.
With his latest work, Edwards wished to recreate that feeling. And he has undoubtedly succeeded. Somehow absorbing elements from iconic films of the genre – from the world-building commitment of Blade Runner to the central relationship of ET, and the exploration of artificial intelligence as seen in AI and The Matrix – The Creator feels both familiar in its tropes and refreshingly novel in its execution.
A key attribute is the filmmaker’s approach to the mesmerising visuals – having cut his teeth in the indie world, creating the critically acclaimed Monsters as writer, director and making all the visuals himself, but since moved into the blockbuster realm with Godzilla and Rogue One, he was determined to combine the best from both independent DIY and mainstream CGI. As such, he shot extensively on location across South East Asia, then added computer effects in afterward, bringing a grounded tangibility to all that unfolds on screen. A clever reversal happens where the AI-integrated New Asia feels more organic and “real” than the sterile, human-only West.
Also at his disposal are an incredible cast, John David Washington furthering cementing his leading man credentials after Tenet, as his character is put through the wringer both physically and emotionally. Washington delineates with skill the journey Joshua goes on, from looking for the love of his life, but instead realising it is the love of a child that is most important. The young Madeleine Yuna Voyles, as Alphie, and the scenes they share together, are nothing short of heart-wrenching. Allison Janey also stands out as a brilliantly cold-blooded Colonel Howell.
What’s interesting about its central conceit, that of a war breaking out between AI and humans, is it began as a parable, a way of discussing how we as a society “other” people and justify violence and war by casting them as the enemy. But in the time the film took to make, AI as a part of our everyday life has exploded, and the discussion therefore plays out today as a more literal, and far more prescient, one. By conjuring moments of profound empathy and humanity from the AI world, Edwards questions how it is we define, judge and treat those different from us, as well as explores what role technology can and should play in our future.
Hans Zimmer’s soaring score is the icing on the cake for a film that is best experienced in the cinema – and on the biggest screen possible.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to Edwards about why he was compelled to make The Creator, his influences and approach to world-building and the themes of the movie.
The Creator is released nationwide on 28th September 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for The Creator here: