Last Thursday, I attended the college tea, screening, and discussion of The Creator with British director Gareth Edwards. His storytelling ability came through even in his simple anecdotes about his filmmaking journey, and his occasional, casually dropped philosophical musings have stuck with me more than his offhand delivery would have you believe. His film was just as memorable.
By his own admission, Gareth Edwards is a visually-oriented director. He began his professional work as a VFX artist, where he was known by production companies as the basement-dweller who could produce better-looking visuals than their own highly paid and trained employees. I think Edwards’s brilliance lies in his sense of when to stop; he concentrates his energy towards what is purely necessary for the impact he wants to induce. This strategy allows the viewer time to really absorb what is going on, as opposed to the maximalist attitude towards action that many similar films take on.
AI anxiety partially fueled the recent Hollywood strikes: writers and actors are justifiably worried about whether their careers will fall into the job black hole that AI may be capable of inducing. The fear of the unknown is not one that can be quelled easily, if ever. How can we be asked to conceptualize the next step in our evolution, with AI as a major actor, without losing our minds? With The Creator, I didn’t sense a firm stance on the issue, but instead a polite gesture: “take a deep breath,” Edwards says. Trying to predict trends is probably impossible with such a complicated problem. We should embrace the opportunity for good, while being aware of the possibility of bad, and leave it at that—a simple message, but one we all need a reminder of.
I couldn’t help but feel that Edwards’s ambitions exceeded that which could be achieved by only a single film: I was splendidly adrift in the world, like any well-established film setting , but almost too adrift. I couldn’t fully absorb my surroundings until I was suddenly at the end credits. I don’t mean to direct any blame toward Edwards, or even the studio. The Creator already represents a refreshingly immense chance taken by the studio to embrace original visions. I’m sure it was already challenging to pitch the standalone film, but if it performs well enough for some sort of follow-up, I will surely be there for it—I would be delighted to spend more time in The Creator’s world in the future. And if not, maybe someday in the future I can type in “The Creator (2023) sequel” into ChatGPT and watch it for myself.