Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards is back with The Creator, a completely original sci-fi movie that he has co-written and directed, which delves into the complicated issue of AI.
Amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, The Creator follows Joshua (John David Washington ), a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan), who 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, Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
We sat down with Edwards to discuss his love of genre and whether we’ll be seeing a sequel to The Creator…
You’ve done a few genre movies now – what is it about sci-fi that inspires you to create movies in this space?
I don’t know. It’s more like I want to ask everyone else ‘why don’t you want to make science fiction films?’ It seems like the ultimate genre
A story is basically a lie – you’re making stuff up. If you’re going to make stuff up, go all the way and then crank it up to 11 and that’s what science fiction is!
I think when you do that you can you can point things out that are harder to do in a normal movie.
For instance, we go through our whole lives with certain beliefs, and we never really get tested on them because everything stays the same. But in a science fiction film, you can take some aspect of life and flip it on its head and suddenly it makes what you used to think, quite difficult. And technology does that as it turns up. Like when mp3 arrived, we started to struggle with ‘what’s the concept of ownership?’ How do you own something if it’s digital? And there’s all these philosophical thoughts that normally you never have to worry about. In science fiction, I think it’s not predicting the future, it’s supposed to prevent it. It’s supposed to flag; ‘here’s a problem with what you’re thinking or the way we’re going and heading’. It’s just supposed to trip you up a bit and make you think.
Like all good sci-fi, The Creator deals with some very important issues – what do you think it is about genre that makes it a good platform to delve into some deep topics?
If you look at Star Wars say, it came along in an era (I mean, I’m not speaking for everybody), but for me and my friends, growing up in school, [we were] probably not going to church like the previous generation.
So we’re missing this quite primal desire for mythological stories and spiritual ideas about life and this thing with robots and spaceships comes along and we all flock to it because it looks cool. But then at the heart of it is this very spiritual storytelling that was missing from a whole generation.
You can get things under the radar with science fiction. My favourite TV show is The Twilight Zone. [The show’s creator] Rod Serling used to do drama – he won Emmys for amazing dramas but he got censored a lot by American corporations – they wouldn’t let him write certain scripts or do certain things. So he ended up creating a science fiction show called The Twilight Zone and no one censored him at all! He could talk about racism and bigotry and everything else, but wrap it up in a story about robots and no one noticed. But you still take the lesson. You still can’t help it. You put it in your pocket and you keep it for the rest of your life. Even though it wasn’t about literally what it was about, it still has the same impact. It’s sort of hidden.
What are you looking forward to audiences seeing in The Creator?
I don’t mind how they feel or what they think about it as long as they have a reaction, I guess. There was a very sweet thing I was sent last night that really made me go ‘oh, that’s why you do it’. Someone on Facebook had recreated the whole trailer with their family in Southeast Asia and it was this little kid dressed as Alphie. They did it shot-for-shot perfect with the music and everything.
I remember doing that; trying to copy Raiders of the Lost Ark or something and it kind of made [me] go ‘oh my god, that’s the cycle’. The most amazing thing you can do is you can hand the baton to people and then they go and do something even better. That’s what life is about, isn’t it?
Are you tempted to create any more stories set in the world of The Creator?
I really love the world. It’s frustrating that I couldn’t do so many of the things I wanted to do, but I’m not planning a sequel. Me and my girlfriend argue all the time because when we get a spare moment we’re like ‘what we’re going to watch on TV?’ She always wants to binge-watch some streaming show and I want to watch a film. At some point, she was like, why don’t you like TV? And I thought about it and my favourite part of the story is the end and TV never ends. I really like films because it’s like a joke where the best part is the punch line, and so this was designed to have an ending and kind of reverse-engineered from that.
So it’s a standalone thing and it’d be a high-class problem for the studio to tap you on the shoulder and say ‘we need a sequel’. That would be a difficult thing to deal with. But yeah, I’d happily take that problem.
The Creator will be released is in cinemas now.