The artificial intelligence in Gareth Edwards' "The Creator," a visually magnificent if by-the-books epic, is not the AI making headlines at the moment. This is AI in the classic sci-fi mold -- the Roy Battys of "Blade Runner," the Avas of "Ex Machina," the ones whose sentience we question and debate endlessly. Will the machines kill us? Take our jobs? Or do something that the movies haven't dreamed possible yet?
As the retired special forces guy cleaning up nuclear debris, Joshua (John David Washington), flatly tells a fellow worker when she posits that the AIs were indeed after their jobs: "They can have this one."
Regardless, for now, artificial intelligence is more allegory for the other than aspiring screenwriters, filmmakers or trash collectors. And, for Edwards and his co-writer Chris Weitz, they might even have more capacity for humanity and goodness than humans, which is not exactly part of the ChatGPT conversation either, though that would be an interesting twist.
This is a film where the visuals upstage the pretty predictable story and even the actors, including the likes of Washington and Ken Watanabe. The lush landscapes of Southeast Asia are stunningly photographed by Edwards and co-cinematographers Greig Fraser ("Dune") and Oren Soffer, who shot on location in eight countries with an unusually low-cost camera for a Hollywood studio film (the Sony FX3, which goes for under $4,000).
Speaking of cost -- "The Creator" was made for around $80 million and looks a thousand times better than movies (mainly of the superhero variety) that cost three times as much. This was part of Edwards' design and could be revolutionary for filmmaking. In addition to using a camera any hobbyist could buy at a local store, instead of pre-determining the concept art and visual effects and forcing the actors to look at little silver balls or tracking markers, they added them in after the fact. It makes a huge difference.
""The Creator," a 20th Century Studios release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association for "strong language, some bloody images, violence." Running time: 132 minutes. Three stars out of four.