“The Creator” looks great but isn’t

Reading Time: 2 minutes Visual spectacle and solid acting isn’t enough to elevate “The Creator” beyond the status of an average action film.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the Writer’s Guild of America strike against the use of AI still fresh in the zeitgeist, conversations regarding artificial intelligence and generative language models like ChatGPT remain common. 

Director Gareth Edwards’ new sci-fi epic, “The Creator,” attempts to bring new ideas to the conversation surrounding AI. Unfortunately, the best thing to be said about the film is that artificial intelligence has never looked better. 

The movie is visually stunning. The spectacle is made more impressive considering the blockbuster was made with a measly $80 million dollar budget. Thanks to the extremely intentional and specific direction of Edwards, “The Creator” manages to look as spectacular as one of his previous films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” for a fraction of the cost. The robot and android characters fit seamlessly into the world thanks to a blend of practical and digital effects. 

The standout performance in the film is nine-year-old Madeleine Yuna Voyles. While her co-star John David Washington gives a decent performance alongside her, Madeleine absolutely steals the show—the emotional range and depth of a child actor has never been more apparent on screen than with Madeleine in “The Creator.” Any of the film’s emotionally resonant moments stem from her subtle facial cues, and whatever humor can be found in the bleak setting is owed to her as well. 

Frustrating is an appropriate word to use when describing “The Creator.” The pieces were all there — a prestigious director, spectacular effects, solid performances — yet it feels as though the audience is only seeing half of the story. Gareth Edwards recently revealed that the initial cut of the film was a whopping five hours long. The theatrical cut comes in at two hours and 13 minutes. 

With nearly three hours of footage cut in the editing bay, it’s no wonder the plot and character work of “The Creator” is so lacking. Character choices throughout the film seem contrived, character deaths lack resonance, and character arcs are virtually non-existent. You get the feeling that the movie was once significantly more careful in the handling of its characters, but that in the theatrical cut, only the most essential elements of plot were included with the complementary context excluded. 

The film’s plot is generally derivative of media like “Avatar” or “The Mandalorian.” It’s subtle about elements that need more explanation and heavy-handed with themes that ought to be handled more delicately. There’s merit and importance in the creation of new stories like “The Creator,” and it’s an enjoyable theater-going experience to be sure. But for as much as this movie wants to be seen as thoughtful, its poor writing demotes it to an action blockbuster.

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