The Creator | Third Space
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The Creator

Visual spectacle that struggles with its message
Tue 10 Oct 2023

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⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)

One of the critical challenges of the science fiction genre has to be striking a balance between innovative depictions of the future and developing a storyline that is accessible to audiences. Over the years, there have been great examples of films that have struck this balance, while even more have failed to reach this equilibrium. The Creator is original content with no built-in following to anticipate its arrival into cinemas, which means for it to be successful, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards will need to find this harmonious combination to get people interested in his creation.

In 2065, a war has been raging between the majority of humanity and the forces of artificial intelligence. Even though robots and humans have lived in harmony for decades, things go wrong when the robots apparently cause a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles despite being created to serve their human counterparts. This action leads to a divided world between the United States-led faction, which looks to eradicate their AI foes, and the New Asian contingent that sides with the robotic creations. In the fight to end this conflict, Special Forces agent Joshua (John David Washington) is recruited to rectify the death of his wife and to hunt down Nirmata, the creator of these humanoid life forms. This secret operation behind enemy lines leads to the unexpected discovery of the latest world-conquering weapon formed as a child. This leads to a juxtaposition for Joshua, who must determine if he will destroy or protect this being named Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).

Edwards admits that this tale was inspired by great films spanning genres from Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, Akira to Rain Man and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as he co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Weitz (About a Boy). Their work is brought into this modern era with some of the best visual effects in years. The symbiotes and robots move through this film with little distraction and prove that the line between special effects and reality is blurring more and more. The British director shows his eye for building a world that incorporates the beauty of this world and complements it with his vision for the future. Audiences will marvel at this visually stunning display that unfolds, which will help cover some of the film's weaker elements.

The overall story arc keeps this film from being labelled as a masterwork within this genre. As mentioned before, with so many narrative influences, things get disjointed when determining the overall message of the screenplay. Each chapter injects a new focus that leads to confusion instead of clarity of what Edwards and Weitz are trying to convey. Between the current discussion of artificial intelligence and tensions between the East and the West, this film could have been more forthright with what it was trying to say. There are messages of trust, family, heaven and hell, war, racism, and the dangers of unchecked power. Still, none seem to be the ultimate driver in the storyline, which leaves this production less than satisfying.

This confusion may cause viewers to fail in connecting with the individual characters, despite the emotional elements of this sci-fi quest. Granted, there are some strong performances from Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, and newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles, who are wonderful in their support. Yet, John David Washington’s lead role is left with little to express outside of anger and desperation. He does his best with the physical and emotional aspects of his character. Still, this persona gets lost in the various parts of the film's storyline. Even the discussion of artificial intelligence gets confusing as it is used on both sides of the war and no one seems to notice how it is being used against both enemies. The disjointed nature of the timeline and lack of humour cause this journey to contain little light and shade within the storyline for relief.

This leaves us with the opening discussion on what audiences value in their scientific fictional experiences as this movie struggles to balance innovation, visual effects, and writing. As pure entertainment, Edwards does deliver while his messaging needs to find clarity amongst the obvious cinematic multiple influences and societal discussions. The Creator has much to offer those passionate about visual spectacle and those looking to consider some of the big ideas considered through this screenplay.

Reel Dialogue: Are you going to heaven?

Within Alphie and Joshua's discussions, an endearing thread engages with the notion of heaven. The film fails to provide satisfactory answers to the young symbiote's heartbreaking queries. Yet, it does beg the question of how you explain the afterlife to a child.

Admittedly, this is a question that goes beyond a standard film review. Still, it is not one to avoid. Most experts say to be direct, use precise language, and acknowledge that it is hard for adults to understand. For those from the Christian faith, you can share that heaven is a real place, and there is room for anyone to be there after they die. Then, this opens the door to talk to them about Jesus. He is the one who makes this all accessible and believable, since belief in Him is the way to ensure an eternal place with him in heaven.

The answers can be found in the Bible and in the teachings of Jesus, if you are looking for guidance in the conversation.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” - John 14: 1-7

If you would like to discuss the topic of heaven and the Bible. Reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat about this and more.

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