The Creator

In Films by Alex Moss Editor

The Creator co-writer and director Gareth Edwards has had a slightly frustrating cinematic journey thus far. After his beautiful debut Monsters, Edwards became seen as a director for hire who could handle big visual effects. So he’s done Star Wars and Godzilla. Both of which are fine but you always felt he was being led by studio executives rather than his own creative instincts. The Creator, therefore, is a welcome return to his more natural habitat.

In 2065 AI has launched nuclear weapons on Los Angeles causing the US to declare war on these artificial beings. But not all countries agree and so begins a war between those supporting AI and those who oppose it. Having lost his wife Maya (Gemma Chan) and unborn child to the war, Joshua (John David Washington) is lured back into action by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out a new AI weapon and destroy it.

Like his first film, The Creator is at its best when Edwards is world-building. And it is something he is incredibly good at. The world here feels lived in, the effects are less video-game and more lived-in. Forgoing the more common techniques of greenscreen, Edwards shot most of the film on location using smaller cameras. The results are a visual feast and one that will hopefully encourage other filmmakers to get out of the studio and back into the real world.

This is not to say there are no visual effects, there are plenty, but they are used in a more dynamic way. Sprawling vistas are brought to eye-catching life due to hulking buildings and futuristic architecture peppering the background skyline. It is a film that transports you to this world and immerses you in it. Think Ridley Scott doing Blade Runner, but with a more sweat-inducing humidity aesthetic rather than neo-noir rain.

Unfortunately the plot does not always live up to the visuals. It’s fine, and it just about keeps you interested but it does feel a little confused at times. When it really works it seems to be doing a futuristic Apocalypse Now, an embittered soldier on an odyssey that will either see him sell or redeem his soul. Thankfully, by the end, it seems to have settled into this idea and you forgive some of the slightly difficult pacing of the first two acts. 

It is, in many ways, a Japanese anime brought to life, there are shots that feel as if they are paying huge reverence to the likes of Akira and Ghost In The Shell. And while it undoubtedly does achieve that sense of awe-inspiring scale, something Edwards is so good at, the story does often feel like a bit of a video-game, flitting from action sequences to exposition without ever really making a huge amount of sense when it comes to character motivation.

More than anything it is a genuine delight to see Edwards return to his own form of filmmaking, and if there is any justice The Creator will allow him to go and do what he does best, be the creator of cinematic worlds.