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The Creator review: Star Wars director delivers the next sci-fi cult classic

The Creator review: Star Wars director delivers the next sci-fi cult classic

The Creator is undoubtedly an instant cult sci-fi classic.

Seven years after taking on the behemoth challenge of directing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie not only massive in scale but also in studio and fan pressure, Gareth Edwards returns with a rare brand-new science fiction IP. The Creator is directed and co-written by Edwards himself and as the marketing would lead you to believe, The Creator is an epic event movie that is not only a loving pastiche of science fiction film classics, but also undoubtedly an instant cult sci-fi classic in its own right.

The Creator takes place in the backdrop of a war between humanity and AI robots, sparked by the latter dropping a nuclear bomb on Lost Angeles. This forces the US government to outlaw and destroy the robots that were previously seen as helpers. Decades after the bomb, the West believes the remaining AI forces, seeking safe harbour in the east, have built a super weapon powerful enough to wipe humanity from existence. Ex-special forces agent, Joshua (John David Washington), is recruited to hunt down and destroy the weapon and its creator, but his close connection to the weapon, a childlike AI named Alfie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles) makes this impossible.

Madeleine Yuna Voyles as Alphie /
20th Century Studios

On a reportedly only $80-million budget, The Creator is one of the best-looking sci-fi movies ever made. Edwards shot the movie entirely on location, using CGI to enhance shots rather than to build them from scratch. Not only does this make every shot of the movie much more tangible, but it grounds the audience in the turmoil in a way that recent big budget MCU entries have resoundingly failed. Gareth Edward’s sense of epic scale is on full display here, using every trick he knows to make the imposing ship, The Nomad (as seen in all promotional materials) as strikingly awe inspiring as possible. As I said in my initial social media reaction, Gareth Edwards really knows how to create a shot that makes you go "oh damn".

You can find out more about the tricks Gareth Edwards uses to give a sense of scale in his movies in our interview below:

It's so easy to get engrossed in the world and plight of these characters, but the film stumbles at its core emotional hook. I’m not the only person to say this, as initial pre-embargo social media reactions resoundingly highlighted that the third act emotional beats that aim to squeeze every tear from your face, end up bringing nothing but a feeling that something in the story didn’t quite stick to produce the desired reaction. This is no reflection on the cast; John David Washington brings his A-game and commands every scene he’s in. Gemma Chan (Maya), too, does her best with the screentime, and the young Madeleine Yuna Voyles (Alfie) is an absolute showstopper – showing emotional range and talent that is so incredibly rare from actors her age. I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t at least get a nomination this award season.

John David Washington as Joshua /
20th Century Studios

It’s such a shame that the emotional depth doesn’t quite hit the lofty heights of everything else The Creator has to offer. Walking out of my screening, I couldn’t help feeling I’d witnessed something almost truly special. If one takeaway should come from this movie, it's that epic scale and intimate stories can be produced with only a portion of the budget we’ve come to expect from blockbusters, and that Gareth Edwards and his team should be applauded for creating something this visually incredible on such a tight budget.

The Creator may not be the perfect sci-fi movie, but it is a bloody good one. An homage to all the best sci-fi movies, and one that on its own merits comes so very close to standing up next to them. I’ll say it again: The Creator is destined to be the next cult sci-fi classic, and I really hope it succeeds at the box office, as right now we’re in a desperate need of new and original stories – especially ones like this.

The Creator is exclusively in cinemas 29 September

Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Studios

Topics: Star Wars