What’s with the premise of Gareth Edwards sci-fi/horror flick The Creator?

We first questioned what was going on when we saw the first trailer for director Gareth Edwards′ return to sci-fi as writer-director of The Creator, a post-apocalypse story with an official poster meant to evoke Rogue One, and a trailer that feels a lot like a Neill Blomkamp film.  In fact The Creator looks like a revisit to Elysium and District 9 in the same movie.  It also has much in common–at first blush at least–with James Cameron’s Alita: Battle Angel and The Terminator franchise.  But the premise of the trailers has been pretty simple: When confronted with a terrorist bomb in the form of a robot that looks like a kid, what would you do?

Is there any question?  A robot is a robot, no matter how cute.  But a behind-the-scenes trailer featuring interviews with Edwards and actors from the movie would make you think they’re the ones not firing on all thrusters.

In the trailer, Edwards speaks of “50 years from now when AI is more embedded as part of society.”  How about “if”, Gareth.  His assumption is that Earthlings will be making robots that are indistinguishable from humans 50 years from now (we probably still won’t have flying cars by then, or even a shift to entirely electric-powered cars, let alone cars that drive themselves, etc.).  It’s like James Cameron in 1995 predicting we’d have mind-videos by 1999 in Strange Days or in 1991 when he said that cyborgs could take over 1997 in that earlier franchise about human-looking cyber-terrorists.

VFX supervisor Charmaine Chan explains the robots in the film, “think for themselves, they have feelings.”  OK, so what?  They’re being used as bombs.  Star John David Washington says, “it’s hard to know whose side you’d be on.”  Really?  What if it’s your family was at stake?  Co-star Allison Janney adds, “I don’t think anyone’s ever seen anything like this.”  C0-star Gemma Chan says the show asks, “what does it mean to be alive?”  Aside from making the actors not look so bright, the marketing here begins with an assumption that (1) audiences haven’t seen this story hundreds of times before, and (2) the audience for this movie must be stupid or they wouldn’t be saying such nonsense.  Allison, are we to assume you’ve never watched The Terminator movies before, or Neill Blomkamp’s movies, or Steven Spielberg’s A.I., or decades of Star Trek, or Cameron’s Alita: Battle Angel (the list goes on)?  Edwards may be putting his spin on the subject, but we can assure you audiences have seen something like this before.

Exact same threat, but not as cute.

Again, history has taught us enemies at war use tricks and disguises, and they’ve done it since even before the Trojan horse.  Why are the humans in the trailer flinching at all to eliminate the threat?  It’s a robot that sort of looks like a kid.  But it’s clearly not.  It’s a cleverly designed robot.  It’s not even a cyborg–there is apparently no organics (hey, Gemma, that’s what you need to be alive).  So why treat it like a kid?  Eliminate the threat and let’s go watch The Terminator again.

We hope that’s not really what this movie is about–a bad premise resting on some good special effects.  Recall what George Lucas said:  “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”  We think the word “story” there implies “good” story.

Here’s the latest trailer for Gareth Edwards’ The Creator:

So let’s be clear:  AI is a tool.  If it’s a bomb, it’s not your friend.

The Creator stars John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, and Ralph Ineson.  Much of the crew consists of film people in their roles for the first time.  An exception is Oscar-winning cinematographer Greig Fraser, known for Dune, The Mandalorian, and Rogue One.  Look for The Creator in theaters September 29, 2023.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg 

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