The Creator (Christian Movie Review)
About The Movie
The Creator is a counterpoint to the audiences who bemoan the lack of originality in Hollywood amongst the vast sea of superhero flicks and endless sequels. The film is helmed by Director Gareth Edwards, his first movie since 2016’s Rogue One: A Star War Story. The original science-fiction story depicts a war between humans and AI in the not-so-distant future. The concept of “fighting the threat of AI” is far from novel at this point, but Edwards manages to take the familiar concept and weave it into something fresh. The Creator is one of the most immersive and inventive films of the year.
Despite a more modest budget than many other high-concept blockbusters, the film looks visually impressive. The cinematography is excellent with some truly stunning and well framed shots. The design elements—from the AI simulants to the ominous Death Star-like weapon called Nomad—are instantly memorable and effective. The worldbuilding is equally as engrossing, with a show-don’t-tell approach that offers visual cues without ever getting bogged down in long-winded explanations or technicalities. The futuristic world feels authentic and “lived-in” rather than just a glossy, green-screened CGI backdrop for the action. I got some strong Blade Runner and District 9 vibes, particularly in the more cosmopolitan set pieces.
Gareth Edwards takes a similar approach as he did with both his 2014 Godzilla movie and his indie debut Monsters (2010) by keeping the action “grounded” and focusing the story on the perspective of the characters, rather than getting lost in the larger global scope and spectacle of the Humans vs AI war. John David Washington is suburb in the lead role, as is Madeleine Yuna Voyles (in her first on-screen role, no less) as a child AI simulant and alleged “super weapon.” The relational dynamic between these two characters infuses the story with a lot of heart and emotional stakes.
The plot does leave a few messy ends. Thematically, the film touches on several interesting and engaging questions (more on them below), but rarely pursues them deep enough to have as much impact as they might have. The Creator is more of a futuristic action flick than an intellectual sci-fi story. Also, climatic third act abandons some of the earlier established realism. There are a few events and actions that happen without much explanation or logic in order to set up later scenes and “payoff” moments. But because of the corner-cutting to get there, those moments feel a bit confusing rather than earned or impactful.
Despite some of its minor plot contrivances, The Creator is an effective and entertaining science fiction film. It is a movie made all the more enjoyable due to its originality and captivating aesthetic. It’s not a perfect film, but it is the type of film that Hollywood needs more of and that many audiences have been yearning for.
Engage The Film
Creation Needs a Creator
The movie’s title reflects one of the its primary themes. Namely, what does it mean to be created, and how much does the creation reflect its creator?
At one point in the film, the child AI simulant asks Joshua (Washington’s human character) something like, “If someone created AI like me, then who created you?” Then there’s a brief cutaway shot to several nearby monkeys, before Joshua responds, “My mom and dad.” The shot of the monkeys seems to be a clear nod to an evolutionary explanation that “no one” created humans. But Joshua is unable to provide that answer and largely evades the question (he is briefly shown praying in a different scene, although his religious beliefs are never clarified). In this conversation, as well as several other scenes, there is an implication (or at least a possibility) that just as the AI must have a creator, so too must humans.
The film also showcases the innate desire of creation to worship its creator. The AI simulants have developed their own religious beliefs toward the creator of the AI technology. In one scene, an AI priest preaches to a group of children about a “coming savior” that will set them free from war and allow them to live in peace. Later, in a temple honoring the creator, there are various religious sculptures depicting simulants.
Obviously, the “God” for the AI is mortal and not a deity (as the film itself makes clear), and the religion is not consistent with Christianity. Yet, it reflects biblical truth that creation needs a creator, and that creator is worthy of worship: “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
AI and Human Depravity
What makes The Creator unique among the crowd of recent AI-centered stories is the more positive (or at least open-ended) handling of AI. In fact, despite the clear tension and potential danger posed by AI, the simulants mostly come across as the heroes in conflict.
Humans blame the AI simulants for a devastating nuclear attack on Los Angeles, while the simulants insist that it was an error in coding: “They blame us for their own mistakes.” There’s a thematic thread that the AI is merely an extension of our humanity—for better and worse. The AI has the potential to be benevolent and helpful when infused with our best characteristics but also violent and destructive when reflecting tour sinful depravity.
Where the film ultimately lands regarding AI is somewhat murky and I think intentionally open-ended, but a general notion is established that AI is a reality in our world that humans must come to understand and learn how to live with. Thus, rather react in fear and blame the technology for all of our current woes, perhaps we should first reflect on what it reveals of our own human nature.