A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of empathy and perseverance. Movie touches on the value of life -- and whether some lives are more important than others. It poses questions about what it means to be sentient versus human, what it means to be real and alive. Prompts questions about whether AI and humanity are ultimately compatible.
Positive Role Models
Joshua is a redemptive, archetypal hero who goes on a journey, meets helpers, and confronts the truth. He bravely admits his flaws and protects young Alphie. Drew also has a redemptive secondary arc and opens his mind about the possibilities of AI-human coexistence. Alphie, an AI child, is empathetic, curious, and kind. She loves easily and is delighted by new experiences. She also gets sad and lonely and wants to be around Joshua. Negative depictions of the American military establishment. Soldiers are brave and on a mission, but they're also willing to kill humans if people are surrounding AI targets.
The main characters are Black (John David Washington) and East Asian (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), with a supporting cast that's predominantly of Asian descent (Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Amar Chadha-Patel) and White (Allison Janney, Sturgill Simpson, Marc Menchaca). The main character also has limb differences as a result of the nuclear detonation, making for strong disability representation. Buddhist practices (including Buddhist-practicing AI) are depicted. Women and girls are portrayed as resilient, intelligent, and capable -- of military strategy and command, scientific discovery, and religious leadership.
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of explosive war scenes with advanced weapons, bombs, grenades, tanks, and airborne warcraft and weapons of mass destruction. The movie begins with a nuclear explosion caused by AI that kills more than one million Los Angeles-area residents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple kiss, embrace, and caress (occasionally in bed, with husband shirtless and wife baring her pregnant belly). AIs are shown in sleep mode watching projected images of female-cued AI dancers dancing provocatively. A man who formerly fought the AI has an AI romantic partner.
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A couple of uses of "f--k" and "f---ing" (including by a child AI), as well as "d--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "stupid," "bastard," "damn," "goddamn," and more.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Creator is writer-director Gareth Edwards' sci-fi thriller about a near future where artificial intelligence (AI) and humanity are at war. A former special forces agent (John David Washington) is convinced to help track down the creator of an advanced AI weapon before it can destroy the one thing that might be capable of defeating the AI. Expect many scenes of intense war/action violence, including military-grade weapons that cause catastrophic casualties. There are countless deaths (many large-scale), explosions from bombs and grenades, tank artillery, guns used in close combat, and a futuristic warcraft that can obliterate its targets. Strong language includes a couple of uses of "f--k" and "f---ing" (including by a child AI), as well as "d--k," "s--t," "goddamn," and more. Several scenes show a married couple meeting, flirting, kissing, embracing, dancing, and caressing each other (occasionally in bed, partially undressed). A human-AI couple is shown, as are AI partnerships. The movie has a diverse cast, with Black and East Asian main characters and a strong representation of disability. The story has themes of empathy and perseverance and naturally lends itself to discussion about the ethics of AI, futurism, and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director/co-writer Gareth Edwards' moving, intense, genre-bending film is part futuristic thriller, part intergenerational buddy flick, and part relationship drama. The world-building in The Creator includes many unanswered questions, but the film's strong leading performances, dazzling visuals, and touching central story arc make it both thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Washington is a compelling performer who tenderly conveys Joshua's inexhaustible grief and post-traumatic depression, as well as his cautious, fatherly feelings toward the AI he names Alphie. And Voyles is instantly adorable as Alphie, with her expressive eyes, her precocious curiosity, and an emotional resonance that renders her much more than the weapon of mass destruction the Western military supposes her to be. Alphie and Joshua share a connection that starts off transactional and ends up transformative.
In the supporting cast, there are memorable performances from Allison Janney as an American military commander, Ken Watanabe as Maya's AI friend/guard, and singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a former agent and Joshua's one friend. And in its technical aspects, the movie is excellently executed. Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer's cinematography is gorgeous, with epic shots of landscapes both lush (especially in the parts set in Southeast Asia) and industrial. Hans Zimmer's score is memorable and emotive. The anti-imperialist themes are thought-provoking, if a bit heavy-handed, but Edwards balances the anti-AI zealotry with explanations of AI violence toward humans. Like Edwards' Rogue One, The Creator doesn't boast a happily ever after, but it does end on a hopeful note that will likely inspire conversations about humanity and the ethical considerations of artificial intelligence.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.