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The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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November 29, 2023

“The Creator”: Epic science-fiction undermined by mediocrity

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“The Creator” boasts show-stopping visuals and a commanding lead performance from Washington, but each small victory remains undercut by lackluster writing.

★★★

It’s 2055, and artificial intelligence is part of the human experience. It lives among people and works with them but poses their greatest threat.

In “The Creator,” after American AI decimates Los Angeles with a nuclear strike, humanity looks to eradicate its newfound enemy for retribution. Joshua (John David Washington), an ex-special forces operative, is recruited to uncover the secret creation of a mysterious AI engineer and is swept back into the conflict. However, in the process of his mission, he learns the engineer built an AI child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) with the power to alter the course of the war forever.

“The Creator” boasts show-stopping visuals and a commanding lead performance from Washington, but each small victory remains undercut by lackluster writing. What could’ve been a fresh science-fiction blockbuster gets in the way of its own success.

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Despite the numerous shortcomings of “The Creator,” the production value still stands out. For $80 million, director Gareth Edwards and cinematographers Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer create an astonishing visual feast that rivals blockbusters with enormous budgets. The film sweeps through tranquil beaches, riverside towns, mountain villages and cyberpunk cities — astounding locations that are impossible to differentiate between the practical shots and visual effects. 

Nevertheless, Edwards fails to shepherd this story. The pacing is quite uneven, something he also struggled with in previous projects like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Godzilla.” Where those films are unbalanced and back-loaded with excitement in their finales, “The Creator” shows its promise within the first act. The film’s opening is riveting — firing on all fronts with action, emotion and intriguing worldbuilding — but the movie can’t maintain the same level of excitement, and the last two-thirds are severely disappointing as the initial ideas remain undeveloped, despite the setup for these fascinating concepts.

Additionally, while Joshua’s character shows much promise, his arc ultimately falls flat. Washington nails the regret, devastation and uncertainty that results from a tragic marriage and war experience, with a lot of potential for an in-depth exploration of his PTSD. However, Joshua is a character solely defined by his past, not his present, with his character devolving into the cliched protector role, becoming a plot device that only reacts to the needs of others. Even with a superb performance from Washington, it is difficult for the narrative to flourish as his character is written so dull.

The film also struggles to pull together its themes. The core question of the movie is whether AI is more human than humans, but the film gives a very untimely answer. Given the recently ended writers’ and ongoing actors’ strike, it’s bizarre that the film would celebrate AI as a misunderstood species. While Edwards takes a unique approach compared to other examples of AI, the ongoing danger AI presents to real people’s jobs makes this a complete thematic miscalculation and a message bound to step on toes. 

“The Creator” could have been a breath of fresh air for science-fiction filmmaking, but it never capitalizes on the quality of its parts. Regrettably, alongside noteworthy direction and acting comes muddled storytelling, underwhelming character development and undercooked themes. While a story of this magnitude has some entertainment value, it’s more likely to leave audiences cold.

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About the Contributor
Rylan Ammerman, Opinion Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join The B&W? To share my opinions and passions with the community. What is your favorite song? You Make My Dreams (Daryl Hall and John Oates)

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