Artificial intelligence has been a mainstay of the cultural zeitgeist for many years now. But with the appearance of programs such as ChatGPT, which can write college-level essays on any subject and get straight As every time, or Midjourney, which can churn out staggering pieces of art in the style of any artist, real or imagined in seconds, the subject is very much in the public spotlight at present – and it is hard to escape the conclusion that it will stay there.
So it seems very timely that, later this year, the science fiction thriller The Creator will take the advance of AI as its subject. It is the first film from Rogue One director Garreth Edwards since the Star Wars film hit theaters seven years ago. But interest is ramping up in the movie for many other reasons, including an impressive cast, a director who is no stranger to the science fiction genre, and a hefty dose of industry buzz. Here’s what we know so far.
Update September 25, 2023: This article has been updated by Jessica Peerez with more recent developments about the highly-anticipated AI vs. humans film, The Creator.
The Creator: Plot
Early descriptions of The Creator – originally called True Love – bore more than a passing resemblance to the central premise behind the Terminator franchise. However, the recent release of the film’s trailer suggests the finished product will be markedly different. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the film depicts a war between humans and AI. However, the protagonist – a human – seeks to protect an AI child from violence.
At the time of writing, The Creator has had a couple of trailers and a few short clips released, giving viewers insight into the film. The first teaser trailer for the film was released by 20th Century Studios’ on May 17, 2023. The teaser was followed by the official trailer on July 17, 2023. The final trailer for the film was released on September 13. 2023. The most recent trailer will likely be our final glimpse into the film before its release at the end of this month.
The trailer starts off depicting the relationship between John David Washington’s Joshua and Gemma Chan’s Maya before the camera cuts to a shot of the AI child asking Joshua what heaven is and whether Joshua will be going to heaven. The child looks realistically human, except for the robotic element towards the back of her head, conveying the advancements made by AI. The trailer focuses on the human vs. AI plot of the film, showing the war that occurs as Joshua attempts to protect the child.
The most recently released featurette on the film, released on September 19, 2023, and titled Meet The Creator, has director Gareth Edwards talking more about the plot of the film and the depiction of AI in The Creator. Despite being created by humans, the evolution of AI has now become a threat to humans, who must fight it if they are to keep the human race from going extinct. Edwards, expressing his thoughts on the core of the film and referring to AI, says:
“Should we embrace it? Should we destroy it? That’s the heart of this film”
These tropes have been explored before, most recently in Blade Runner: 2049, which played with the question of blurry lines between androids and humans. What has wowed industry insiders and, latterly, convention audiences about The Creator, however, has been the realization of the world – spectacular special effects combined with breathless action scenes and some deft directing has heightened the buzz around this picture in recent days.
The Creator: Cast
Leading The Creator‘s cast is John David Washington. Having started his career as a professional football player with the St. Louis Rams, Washington later transitioned to acting, and his rise in Hollywood has been swift and impressive. He garnered favorable reviews with appearances in BlacKkKlansman (2018), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020). Last year, he starred in the comedy thriller Amsterdam opposite Christian Bale and Margot Robbie. He is set to appear in the film adaptation of playwright August Wilson’s period drama The Piano Lesson next year.
Starring opposite Washington is British actor Gemma Chan. Chan got her big break on British television, cutting her teeth on flagship BBC shows such as Doctor Who and Sherlock, as well as Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Bedlam. She has been featured in many high-profile films like Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), and Raya and the Last Dragon (2021). She also has appeared as two different characters in the MCU: Minn-Evra in Captain Marvel (2019) and Sersi in Eternals (2021).
Allison Janney also appears in the film. Since bagging an Oscar and a BAFTA for her work in the critically acclaimed biopic about Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding, I, Tonya (2018), Janney has been in high demand, appearing with Hugh Jackman in crime drama Bad Education (2019); as one of the star-studded ensemble that voiced the animated version of The Addams Family (2019); and, last year, in Amazon’s romcom The People We Hate at the Wedding.
Also starring is Ralph Ineson, who is well known to Harry Potter fans as Amycus Carrow and to aficionados of Game of Thrones as Dagmer Cleftjaw. However, the Yorkshireman has done equally polished work outside the fantasy genre, making accomplished yet understated appearances as in the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018). In addition, he’s appeared as a Soviet general in HBO’s award-winning miniseries Chernobyl (2019) and opposite Dev Patel in The Green Knight (2021).
Other cast members include Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo Jima, Godzilla), Sturgill Simpson (Queen & Slim, The Hunt), and Marc Menchaca (The Evening Hour, No One Gets Out Alive). All eyes are on newcomer Madeline Yuna Voyles, who plays Alfie, the young A.I. that is designed as a child whom John David Washington’s character Joshua must protect.
Helmed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards, principal photography on The Creator wrapped in May last year. Greg Fraiser, who did the cinematography for Rogue One, Dune, and The Batman, is also The Creator‘s cinematographer and also a co-producer on the film.
The Creator is scheduled for its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest in Texas on September 26, 2023. The film was originally set for release on October 6, 2023, but was bumped up a week early. The film will now be released in theaters on September 29, 2023, and will be released the same weekend as Paramount Picture’s Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie and Lionsgate’s Saw X. The Creator has been overlooked in the Saw Patrol marketing campaign the studios have tried to create.
The Creator will also be getting an IMAX release and, given its distribution by 20th Century Studios, will hopefully be available for streaming on Hulu towards the end of this year or the beginning of next. Early word of mouth on the movie is extremely positive, and it could be one of the biggest surprise hits of the year.