Thursday, September 28, 2023


Gareth Edwards (ROGUE ONE) returns to our screens with a sci-fi film that feels like a cross between Battlestar Galactica and The Golden Child, except this time Sada Numpse is Allison Janney. I was surprised at just how slow, dull and soapy the film felt: all saccharine tears and overwrought emotion.  I wanted an intelligent interrogation of the real threat that AI poses. Instead I got sanctimony and a disappointingly guessable plot twist.

The film is set forty years in the future in a world where the West has decided to eliminate AI after it nuked LA, but for some unknown reason "New Asia" has decided it's cool with being out-evolved. For now, the US has the upper hand thanks to a suspiciously Death-Star hover-nuke called Nomad that can take out enemies at will, napalm-in-the-morning style. But New Asia is fighting back: its mysterious scientist Namrata has created a new AI that can neutralise any other tech, embodied in a cute little Cylon child. 

That's about as much actual sci-fi as we get. The film seems far more concerned with moody action sequences in beautifully evocative Asian settings. These hinge on John David Washington's US soldier Joshua being on the lam with the aforementioned Golden Child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) as they search for Namrata and Joshua's Asian wife Maya (Gemma Chan in a hugely underwritten part).  There are some car chases and a lot of shooting. Ken Watanabe has a rather moving cameo.  But the overwhelming feeling I had was, come on, are we there yet? And when we do finally get there, it's all so underwhelming, and indeed laughable (poor Allison Janney!)

The overall impression I get is that Gareth Edwards has made a film that looks fantastic, and imagines a beautiful, grungy, lived-in world.  But his choice to set the action in Asia and to use the Golden Child trope is problematic. His writing is very thin, and this hamstrings his actors. An example of the bad writing is given below: warning it contains spoilers.

THE CREATOR is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 133 minutes. It is on global release.

SPOILERS:  If Maya is so clever she can create advanced tech-neutralising AI, how come she's not so smart to see her husband is a spy? Is New Asia cool with AI because it knows AI didn't nuke LA? If so why not just tell the West? If not then why?

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