Gareth Edwards’ latest film, The Creator (2023), starring John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Allison Janney, and Madeleine Yuna Voyles (her acting debut), has captured audiences’ attention with its interesting plot and beautiful cinematography. Despite drawing inspiration from notable classics like Apocalypse Now (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and Akira (1988), Edwards manages to deliver an original story, especially if you look at Hollywood’s recent history dealing with science fiction. The film’s appeal lies in its high-end sci-fi elements and intricate world-building, bringing a refreshing cinematic experience after ages.
However, the narrative falters due to unfortunate editing choices and a lack of depth in character development. Despite these shortcomings, the film remains a worthwhile watch, especially for those tired of the repetitive themes of alien invasions or AI replacing humans. Mind you, Edwards’ creation at least tried to break free from these tired tropes.
I have tried to break down the intricate details in this article, including the film’s themes. It’s essential to note that this piece contains significant spoilers, so I advise you to proceed cautiously.
The Creator (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Before delving into the plot and characters of ‘The Creator,’ let’s first explore the world the filmmaker has built in the film. The story is divided into four chapters, each offering a unique perspective. The first chapter is titled ‘Nirmata,’ derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Nirmāta,’ which translates to ‘the creator.’ The second chapter is named ‘The Child,’ followed by ‘The Friend’ in the third segment, and the final and most crucial chapter is titled ‘The Mother.’ Each part has its own analogy, providing the audience insights into the filmmaker’s choice to present the story in this chaptered format.
What is the new movie The Creator about?
The year is 2065, and the United States is at war. Ten years ago, mankind used the power of AI to create robots designed to enhance and simplify their lives. These robots could perform a wide range of tasks, from delivering babies to constructing complex machinery, leveraging the extensive capabilities of human beings. Initially programmed to protect humans, these AI-powered robots faced a turning point: a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles killed millions of humans, and the AIs were blamed for it. In the aftermath, humanity swiftly abandoned the AI species. The country’s leader vowed to seek revenge and hunt down every AI base to destroy them. While they are able to eliminate almost all the AI bases on the planet successfully, it comes to their notice that New Asia has allied with AI, treating them as equals.
We then get introduced to Joshua, who is expecting his first child with his wife, Maya. We briefly learn that Maya was practically raised by the AI simulants (a cross between humans and robots), making her a part of their world. However, when their base gets ambushed by the American Military, Maya finds out that Joshua is working undercover with a mission to find the ‘Nirmata.’ While the military takes over the island, their floating space station – the USS Nomad, strikes at the base and destroys it, killing Maya and the other stimulants.
It has been five years, and Joshua now works in the ground zero cleanup program, where he has to find AI robots and send them for incineration. General Andrew and Colonel Howell contact Joshua to recruit him on a mission to destroy the ‘weapon’ that poses a danger to the USS NOMAD. Initially uninterested in taking the job, he gets persuaded when Colonel Howell shows him holographic footage of Maya hiding with the simulants in a remote area. The following day, Joshua, Colonel Howell, and her crew head to the remote island in New Asia to find Nirmata. When one of the crew members threatens the local villagers, Joshua finds a way inside the underground base where the ‘weapon’ might be hidden.
After finding their way inside the underground base, Joshua discovers that the ‘weapon’ – that the USS Nomad is after – is a robotic, simulant girl with the incredible power to control technology remotely. While Howell’s team is killed in action by the AI police force, Howell, on the other hand, instructs Joshua to destroy the ‘weapon.’ However, Joshua somehow goes by his instincts and names the simulant ‘Alphie’ and takes her with him to find his friend Drew (his former commanding officer who helped him meet Maya), who has been living in the city.
Meanwhile, Joshua and Alphie become friendly to one another, trying to learn more about their lives. It is where we know that Alphie, an advanced AI Bot programmed to save her species, is still curious if her feelings are akin to those of humans. After managing to enter the city, Joshua is amazed to see how people have formed an alliance with the AI and have been living peacefully without any conflicts.
Why did Joshua visit Drew?
We soon learn the reason for Joshua’s visit to Drew. When Joshua was first assigned to go undercover and look into Maya’s actions, Drew was his captain, and he had placed a tracker in the wedding ring that Joshua gave Maya. As a last resort, and since the US Army’s plan did not pan out, Joshua wants Drew to look into the tracker and find Maya’s current location. Joshua also introduces Alphie to Drew and wants him to examine her to find out more about Nirmata. However, Drew quickly tells Joshua that Alphie is not like any other AI simulates but is one of a kind with powers that will not only grow but also be able to put an end to the war.
What does Drew tell Joshua about Nirmata?
When Drew’s simulant girlfriend Kami takes Alphie to her apartment for an ice-cream break, the New Asian Police force enters their home to take Alphie with them. While Kami is instantly killed, Joshua is able to take down the force and flee the scene before Colonel Howell can find them. Joshua, Alphie, and Drew follow the tracker in Maya’s ring and find their way to Joshua’s old house. Joshua is relentless in finding Maya’s whereabouts, but just then, the army of the simulants ambush the place, and right before Drew dies, Joshua learns that Maya is actually Nirmata.
As Joshua tries to run away with Alphie, the simulants capture them, taking them to their base. The simulant force is led by Harun, who was Joshua’s friend when he was undercover. It is when Harun explains to Joshua how a different narrative blinds him according to the US government about the AI species. It turns out that the nuclear disaster a decade ago was because of a human coding error, and the US government blamed AI as a way of hiding their mistake. Harun also shares that the war will not solve the ongoing conflict between the two species as AIs only aim is to live peacefully with their humans.
Who is Alphie?
After her father’s death, Maya became the second Nirmata and used all her time building Alphie. She used the likeness of her own embryo and programmed the simulant with the hope that it would bring peace into their world. It is when Joshua connects the dots and learns that Alphie is, after all, Maya and his creation.
Later, we see Joshua rescuing Alphie, and as he prepares to leave the base, the US army attacks the village. It is when we also see how Colonel Howell is not just heading the mission but also seeking an end to some personal vendetta against the simulants for killing her sons. When the US army outnumbers the simulants, Alphie uses her powers to stop the attack. However, she gets wounded by one of Howell’s men, McBride. Joshua intervenes and kills the soldier and requests Harun to save Alphie.
What is Nirmata?
Alphie is then taken to a secret place called Diang-Diang (heaven) – a shrine-like monastery where Joshua learns that Maya has been in a coma for the last five years. When Joshua asks one of the simulant gurus, he learns that Nirmata is actually a god-like figure who practically created them. It is why they cannot put her to rest, despite knowing she will never wake up. Alphie, significantly connected to her mother (Maya), tells Joshua to help her find her way to heaven. It is when Joshua turns off the ventilator and Colenl Howell arrives to kill Nirmata and take away the ‘weapon.’ Before Howell can scan and take Maya’s memories, Harun kills Howell and her men. Before leaving to fight off the USS Nomad, Harun tells Joshua that it must be destroyed to end the war. However, the US forces capture Joshua and Alphie and take them to their LA base.
The Creator (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
How does the movie The Creator end?
General Andrews orders Joshua to kill Alphie with a stun gun as she would not let anyone near her. When Joshua enters the enclosure, Alphie gets emotional seeing her friend. Joshua orchestrates that he is adhering to General Andew’s orders but puts her on standby, making it look like the deed is done. He then requests Andrews to allow him to be with Alphie, who will be taken to the incineration grounds. When Alphie is taken, Joshua turns her on and tells her to control the vehicle, allowing them to escape the government officials.
Before Andrews could capture them, Joshua and Alphie board a lunar shuttle at the LA interplanetary air and space port, where Alphie controls the spacecraft and lands it on the Nomad space station. Andrews orders his team to launch a large-scale missile attack on all the remaining AI bases. Meanwhile, Joshua instructs Alphie to turn off the ship’s power so that he can plant an explosive on a missile aiming to destroy the entire platform with its payload.
Is Alphie the new Nirmata?
Alphie finishes her task, and as she makes her way to the escape pod, she finds a room full of simulants looking like Maya. She drags one of the simulants into a hydroponic farm and inserts the hard drive Joshua gave her in remembrance of Maya. Unable to reboot ‘the mother’ and running out of time, Alphie makes her way to Joshua, who runs out of oxygen. As Alphie tries to initiate the escape pod, a giant squid-like robot unleashed by Andrews tries to take her away, but Joshua somehow manages to rescue Alphie. Unfortunately, this is when he also realizes that there is no way he would be able to join her, so he releases Alphie’s escape pod as the explosives on the NOMAD start to take effect. While the NOMAD blows apart, one platform at a time, Joshua gets the much-needed closure when he sees Maya on the farm with her memories rebooted. As Alphie makes her way back to Earth, the rest of the AI robots cheer in happiness as they see NOMAD’s debris enter the atmosphere.
The ending of The Creator shows us Alphie emerging out of the escape pod, crying in happiness at the sight of her species’ new-acquired freedom, with the simulants chanting the word ‘Nirmata’ around her.
Now that we are done with the ending bit let’s look into some of the most burning questions that a viewer might have while/after watching The Creator. Please note that some of the queries that you might have do not have a perfect and straightforward answer, as the movie is greatly flawed, or some things are kept ambiguous for a reason. So, all the answers that you will find hereby are mere speculations from my end.
Does The Creator (2023) have religious symbolism?
In The Creator (2023), director Edwards delves into religious themes, exploring the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. While the surface story revolves around the fear of machines replacing humanity, the film metaphorically delves into themes of outsiders, differing belief systems, and the quest for freedom from oppression. A central aspect of the movie’s exploration of religion lies in the AI bots’ loyalty to a belief system, where the AI entities view themselves as creations meant to serve humans, akin to slaves. Within this framework is a prophecy of a savior, ‘Nirmata’ (a godlike creator), destined to liberate them from this perceived enslavement.
The film’s exploration of religion also draws parallels with real-world beliefs. The AI monks, resembling Buddhist monks, symbolize the quest for enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment. By integrating these elements, the film raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of belief, the search for identity, and the struggle for liberation from societal constraints. There is also a reflection on the interplay between faith, technology, and the human condition in The Creator, challenging conventional notions and encouraging contemplation on the evolving relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence.
Is The Creator an allegory about war & immigration?
The film weaves a layered allegory about war and immigration, drawing a poignant parallel between the plight of the AI community and historical events in Vietnam. The movie’s setting in New Asia, an amalgamation of Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Nepal, speaks volumes about the deliberate narrative choices made to emphasize certain themes. The absence of China in New Asia, a decision likely influenced by economic concerns, subtly reflects the geopolitical complexities of the region. It’s a stark reminder of how real-world economic and political factors can shape creative narratives.
The comparison between the slaughter of AI and the tragic events of the Vietnam War serves as a haunting allegory. By drawing this parallel, Edwards illuminates the cyclical nature of human history. The scenes depicting AI suffering, including a mass grave, echo the horrors of war and highlight the devastating consequences of conflict. While these scenes are not handled with the sensitivity they need, it’s important to highlight it nonetheless.
The film’s exploration of immigration is intertwined with the AI community’s struggle for freedom and acceptance. Much like immigrants seeking refuge and a better life, the AI entities in the film yearn for liberation from their perceived enslavement. Their journey mirrors the universal human quest for a safe haven and a sense of belonging, highlighting the shared aspirations of diverse communities, whether human or artificial.
What is Alpha/Omega?
The term “Alpha,” originating from the Greek alphabet, signifies the beginning or the starting point of a journey. In the context of the movie, it represents the protagonist, portrayed by John David Washington, who embarks on a courageous quest to save the planet. His character embodies the human spirit, resilience, and determination, symbolizing the inherent capacity of humanity to confront challenges and strive for a better future.
On the other hand, “Omega,” also derived from the Greek alphabet, signifies the end or the conclusion of a process. In religious contexts, particularly in the Bible, it refers to Jesus as the “Alpha and Omega,” representing the eternal nature of divinity, encompassing both the beginning and the end of all things. In the film, this concept is embodied by Madeleine Yuna Voyles’ character, Alpha-Omega. As the representation of artificial intelligence controlling the world, Alpha-Omega embodies the culmination of technological advancement and the potential consequences of human creation reaching its zenith.