The first thing to know about “The Creator” is that it manages to build a believable, visually astonishing sci-fi world. The film starts with newsreel footage telling the story of humanity’s relationship with robots, and how A.I. was created to aid humans in doing manual labor. Then we became too dependent on them as they took over more and more jobs, including security and warfare. Then one day, they detonated a nuke in Los Angeles that killed a million people and kickstarted a war. A decade later, all A.I. is banned in the West, while Asian countries united to create New Asia, where A.I. is still thriving and living side by side with humanity.
While the world of “The Creator” and its visuals do much of the heavy lifting, it still features some powerful performances, particularly by John David Washington and newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles. The former plays Joshua, an American soldier tasked with finding “Nirmata,” the titular creator whose role in the A.I. movement is kept too vague to know why it is important other than because we’re told it is. But after the military gets trigger-happy, Joshua finds himself alone and without friends, as he struggles with whether he should kill Nirmata’s newest weapon that could destroy mankind, which has the form of a young girl named Alfie (Voyles).
Like “Rogue One,” “Monsters,” or the original “Star Wars,” Edwards’ “The Creator” paints a picture of a world that feels lived-in and thought-out, where the look of every building, every piece of tech, and every background detail tells a story rich in history. A lot of what we know of the world of “The Creator” is told visually rather than through exposition, which is a welcome change of pace these days.