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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘The Creator’: An ironic tale of AI integration

The+Creator%3A+An+ironic+tale+of+AI+integration
Shavonne Chin

Artificial intelligence has taken off at a rapid pace in the last year, initially overtaking writing assignments in the classroom before expanding into a jack-of-all-trades in online creativity. Like it or not, it’s here to stay. 

In “The Creator” an original sci-fi tale sneaking into Hollywood’s wasteland of sequels and reboots AI has gone on even further to establish itself as a species equal to humanity.

As you can imagine, chaos ensues.

“The Creator,” released on Sept. 29, begins with an explosion. Los Angeles has been nuked, millions have died and the aforementioned AI is to blame. But unlike ChatGPT, this artificial intelligence has evolved to become its own ecosystem of robots living peacefully among human beings. After the bomb, that peace evaporates into a decades-long world war.

The film’s forward-thinking stance on AI, its potential and how it can be integrated into our world is a surprising pivot from the negative connotation the topic holds in real life. As executives from leading AI labs warn of a dangerous future ahead, “The Creator” offers up something different.

As a question, the film boils it down to this: what if AI doesn’t evolve into a complete existential nightmare, instead opting to correct the imperfections of human existence? 

Amid the carnage surrounding that question is ex-soldier Joshua, played by John David Washington, who grieves the death of his pregnant wife Maya while isolating himself from the ongoing war. After the AI is discovered to have a superweapon powerful enough to wipe out humanity’s last defense system, Joshua is pulled back into the fight and tasked with destroying it.

The style of the film’s action, led by writer-director Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One,” 2014’s “Godzilla”), embraces a low budget run-and-gun approach that still encapsulates the story’s epic scale. While Hollywood greenlights bloated budgets for the next superhero sequel without hesitation, Edwards leans on his mere $80 million price tag to explore the visually rich world of Earth in 2070.

Alongside the action, the plot of “The Creator” moves quickly, ushering Joshua from one set piece to the next with almost no time to breathe. The lightning-quick pace breezes through some of the film’s loftier ideas about AI and the more essential backstory for Joshua and Maya, one of two emotional foundations for the entire story.

The second, and arguably more successful one, arrives in the form of Alfie, played by nine-year-old Madeleine Yuna Voyles. In her first-ever screen credit, she excels in the role, bouncing off Joshua’s quiet demeanor as a memorable sci-fi child prodigy. 

The pair’s chemistry makes the film work well even when its narrative falters, developing Alfie from just another “simulant” — the film’s term for a robot with a human face — into a fleshed-out and satisfying daughter figure for Joshua’s broken spirit to latch onto.

If that dynamic sounds familiar, think this year’s “The Last of Us” adaptation set 50 years from now.

Considering its similarities with the above influence, the film’s storyline for the duo welcomes few surprises. As a melting pot of ‘70s science fiction classics and gritty war cinema, the script’s narrative revelations can be spotted 30 minutes away. Nonetheless, the mysteries behind the nuclear blast, the war itself and Voyles’ exact purpose in the whole story are interesting. 

They’re just not as engrossing, or as shocking, as they should be.

This issue of familiarity thankfully stays away from the visuals, which are a shining achievement throughout. Alongside Edwards, cinematographers Greig Fraser (“Dune”) and industry newcomer Oren Soffer take full advantage of the stripped-down approach to their filmmaking on the project. 

Throughout principal photography, Edwards and the crew scaled down to the bare essentials, traveled to dozens of beautiful locations and shot each scene on the mere $4,000 Sony FX3, which could be bought right off the shelves at Best Buy. For anyone looking to enter the industry, that fact is undoubtedly inspiring.

Box office tentpoles from Disney and the like consistently cost over $200 million to produce. The fact that an original work of science fiction made for less than half that price can look more impressive is incredible. The industry’s bloated slate of intellectual properties is still fun at times, but the refreshing sight of borderline DIY techniques on the big screen is a welcome one.

In all, “The Creator” marks an intriguing point for the film industry in 2023. Mere days after the WGA struck a deal to limit AI influence on new scripts, the story introduces an ironically positive image of robots coexisting with humans. At a time when the industry’s mass production of franchise films appears to be suffering financially, the film’s independent mindset highlights how cheaper technical methods could be the next best thing. 

Though the film’s own financial success remains to be seen and its optimistic display of artificial intelligence may not hold up with time, “The Creator,” like its many AI characters, has generated more than enough reasons to give it a chance.

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