Artificial Intelligence (AI), is one of today’s most hotly debated topics and is at the epicenter of The Creator, a science fiction thriller set in the near future. “The Timing of this film is surreal,” says director/co-writer Gareth Edwards. “Even though we’ve been developing this movie for years, it’s opening at a fascinating time when our world is wrestling with a lot of the issues and questions we wanted to address with the film.”
“It explores what it means to be human, whether AI can be conscious, questions of good and evil among AI and among people. I really think that exploring these questions is what sci-fi does best, says Edwards, who crafted the screenplay with Chris Weitz from a story by himself.
Gareth Edwards is a British filmmaker who spent the first 10 years of his career as a visual effects artist, working from his bedroom on BBC documentaries including Hiroshima, for which he won a BAFTA Award. He has since gone on to a successful career as a motion picture director whose dedication to storytelling and hands-on involvement in various aspects of filmmaking have earned him respect among his peers and audiences alike. He is known for his thoughtful approach to character development, immersive visual storytelling, and ability to balance spectacle with emotional depth.
“Originally, I thought of AI in this film as a metaphor for other people unlike us whom we often view as the enemy. Then as I got into the writing of it, all these philosophical dilemmas started bubbling up to the surface. Like, if there were AI that felt 100% real to interact with, what would happen if you didn’t like what it was doing? Can you turn it off? Is it wrong to turn it off? What would happen if it didn’t want to be turned off? At the Bme, it seemed a little far-fetched, like something we might be dealing with 30 years from now.”
He continues, “But weirdly, as we were making the film, there were all these news stories about whistleblowers at big tech companies warning us about how advanced the AI had become and how it was being developed for commercial purposes, and how it could replace human labor. And it feels like we’re at that Bpping point now where it’s here; That Pandora’s box has been opened. And this movie, by sheer fluke, is completely about that issue. And is it real? Does it matter? Should we embrace it? Should we destroy it? Those ideas are at the heart of this film. So, it’s really Bmely in that sense.”
When Rogue One was over, I needed a break. I went on a long road trip with my girlfriend to her parents in Iowa. As we traveled across the Midwest, I watched the endless farmlands scroll by listening to movie soundtracks. Suddenly, there, in the midst of all the tall grass, was this strange factory. I remember it having a Japanese logo on it. I started to wonder what they were building in there. Well, it was Japanese, and I’m a science fiction geek, so my mind went straight to robots. It had to be robots, right? Imagine you were a robot built in that factory, and that’s all you had ever known, then one day something went wrong, and you suddenly found yourself outside in this field for the first time, seeing the world, the sky, what would you think? It felt like the beginning of a movie. I found it fascinating, and by the time we arrived at my girlfriend’s parent’s house, I had the whole film pretty much worked out in my head. It’s very rare this ever happens. I took it as a good sign, and thought, maybe this should be my next film.
An epic sci-fi action-thriller set amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of Artificial Intelligence
The Creator begins in the aftermath of a cataclysmic disaster, the decimation of Los Angeles by
artificial intelligence. Governments in the West respond with a complete ban on AI, while Eastern
nations continue to develop the technology to the point where robots have become human-like
and embraced as equals. This sets into motion a war between the West and the East, America against
Asia – the backdrop of our story.
In The Creator, Joshua (John David Washington), a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan), is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war…and mankind itself. Joshua and his team of elite operatives journey across enemy lines, into the dark heart of AI-occupied territory, only to discover the world-ending weapon he’s been instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
Although AI is now a reality, it started life as speculative fiction a century ago when German writer Thea von Harbou wrote Metropolis for her filmmaking husband Fritz Lang. Let’s explore films that perfectly encapsulate the raw power and thought-provoking nature of this world-changing technological breakthrough. Part I explores films crafted from the 30s to the 60s. Part II explores films made during the 70s. Part III takes a look at the 80s and 90s, and Part IV will feature films from the year 2000 to the present.
Following the success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Edwards was offered a number of projects, but after inspiration struck for The Creator, he co-wrote the original script with Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”) and decided it would be his next film.
New Regency was a big fan of Edwards’ work and agreed to finance the development of the script as well as a trip for Edwards and producer Jim Spencer (“Monsters”) to Southeast Asia at the tail end of 2019 to scout locations and act as a proof of concept to show that they could make a big movie with a different approach.
“Making a proof of concept is one thing, applying that approach to an entire feature is something else,” says Edwards. “The only way we could pull this off was to embrace the very latest in cutting-edge technology. Equipment that had never been used on a major feature film before.”
After seeing the footage, New Regency and Entertainment One agreed to co-finance the film, which was later Titled The Creator, which 20th Century Studios would distribute.
In describing Edwards, whom Spencer has worked with for 20 years, he says, “He is an incredible collaborator. His energy and passion flow through every frame of this movie. He’s a world builder
with a unique vision and style. There is never any doubt when you are watching a Gareth Edwards
I hate writing screenplays. It’s like having the worst homework in the world. The only way I can bring myself to do it is to lock myself away in a nice hotel and promise to never leave until the script is finished. I was doing exactly that, in a resort in Thailand, when a director friend of mine (Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who had made “Kong: Skull Island”) was in Vietnam and invited me to join him. We spent a week traveling across the country and having just been in a creative, screen-writing headspace, my imagination was going wild the entire time. I started envisioning massive futuristic structures rising out of paddy fields, or thinking about fascinating spiritual questions that would come of a Buddhist monk being an AI. I found it captivating, and I got really excited about the idea of something “Blade Runner”-esque being set in Vietnam I was seeing. If I didn’t make that film now, then someone else would beat me to it…I had to do this!”
“We live in a world where we have this fear of the other person, people who are different from ourselves. More and more these days, we’re becoming polarized. We sometimes have this idea that those who don’t share our values are the bad guys, and we’re the good guys. But obviously, they feel like we’re the bad guys and they’re the good guys. That’s how humans work. I wanted to try to explore the kind of situation where you once had a massive prejudice against a certain group and then you get thrown into the midst of that group and must live with them or find a way out alive. How does that change you? What do you witness there that affects your prejudice against those people? I really like the idea of a character that gets thrown into a situation, and through that journey to get home begins to see it from the other perspective.”
To bring director/co-writer Gareth Edwards’ vision to the screen, the production traveled over 10,000 miles to 80 different locations in eight different countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Japan, Indonesia, the U.K. (at Pinewood Studios outside of London), and the U.S. (in Los Angeles).
GARETH EDWARDS, p.g.a. (Director/Story/Co-Screenplay/Producer) Edwards hails from Nuneaton, a small town in the middle of England, where, after seeing “Star Wars” for the first time, he was determined to become a film director. For his university graduation project, he was one of the first student films to combine live-action with digital effects. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016, Edwards proved he was more than capable of navigating the beloved Star Wars universe with precision, delivering a compelling narrative that honored the franchise’s legacy while adding a fresh perspective. In 2014 he took on the immense task of rebooting Toho’s legendary Godzilla franchise with the film Godzilla. The film’s success led to the birth of Legendary’s Monster Verse, a shared universe featuring various classic monsters and modern storytelling. Edwards’ breakout film, Monsters (2010), was an independent production that showcased his diverse skill set and established him as a talent to watch in the industry. Prior to that, Edwards directed the epic drama Heroes and Villains: Atla the Hun for the BBC
CHRIS WEITZ (Co-Screenplay) began his film career as a co-writer, along with his brother Paul, of the 1998 animated film Antz. More recently Weitz has written several feature films, including Pinocchio and Cinderella for Disney; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for Lucasfilm; and The Mountain Between Us for
Twentieth Century Fox.