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The Creator: a big movie with big effects that explores AI ethics in surprising ways – Physics World


Kyla Rushman reviews the film The Creator produced, directed and co-written by Gareth Edwards

The Creator

Will robots take over the Earth? It’s a question that’s been asked by many sci-fi movies since the dawn of AI. We are simultaneously scared and excited by the prospect of creating robots to imitate – and do some of the work of – humans. These films follow a well-trodden path: we create the robots, they develop consciousness, they threaten to take over, we try to stop them (I, Robot,  The Terminator…). The Creator – the new film directed and co-written by Gareth Edwards – has a similar plot line, but it does add a new twist.

We find ourselves on an Earth where robots – or “synths” – have been created in our likeness and introduced into society some time before the story begins. But a nuclear-weapon detonation over Los Angeles put an end to this life of cohabitation. The West has called an all-out war on synths, which are still an integral part of the “New Asia” of the East. Our hero, Joshua (played by John David Washington), is a soldier on a mission to find and destroy the “Creator” (of the synths) and a new weapon that threatens the existence of humankind. Along the way, he finds himself in a struggle to identify who the real enemy is.

The synths are, in many ways, more human than most of the people in the movie. The “humanity” of the synths is reminiscent of the Blade Runner replicants, who became increasingly introspective as their end-date draws close. As they ask life’s big, universal questions, the synths turn to some very human concepts.

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This is a big movie, with big special effects. Many of the beautiful scenes were filmed on location with effects added to them. The soundtrack is powerful and in places music is used in an unusual way to pull your focus to a particular part of the drama. Washington is hugely watchable throughout, as is newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles, who plays the synth Alphie.

The Creator is action-packed, edge-of-your seat stuff for most of its 133 minutes. But it’s a poignant film too, dealing with love and loss. It also argues against using a single act of violence as an excuse to commit genocide. Ultimately, though, The Creator suggests that we cannot blame technology for the problems we face in the world today – we must take full responsibility for those ourselves.

  • 2023 Twentieth Century Studios/Disney

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