Friday, June 14, 2024

NewsHorizon

Where your horizon expands every day.

Business

Good morning Vietnam


MOVIE REVIEW
The Creator

Gareth Edwards is the director.

The film The Creator, directed by GARETH Edwards, opens with a prologue that gives us an update on recent events: an artificial intelligence sets off a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles, leading Western countries to ban machine intelligence; however, New Asia goes against the ban and allows peaceful coexistence with machines. In retaliation, the United States launches a prolonged military campaign against New Asia, aiming to kill the chief designer of the AI, Nirmata (which means “creator” in Sanskrit).

The movie officially starts with a surprise attack on a house by the beach. Sergeant Joshua Taylor, played by John David Washington, lives there with his wife, Maya (Gemma Chan), who is pregnant. It is revealed that Taylor was working undercover to get close to Maya, who is believed to be the daughter of the mysterious Nirmata. However, falling in love with her was not part of his plan. The raid ends tragically with Maya and her unborn child being killed by NOMAD, an organization known as the North American Orbital Mobile Aerospace Defense. They are depicted as an all-seeing “Angel of Death” who holds a sword over the world and is ready to destroy anything artificial.


After five years, Taylor is brought back to Los Angeles to work on a cleanup project. However, they are then given a new task: to investigate the possibility that Maya, who was thought to be dead, may actually be alive and involved in her father’s project to create a weapon to end the war. During the mission, Taylor discovers the weapon – a robot disguised as a young girl named Madeleine Yuna Voyles. This “simulant” has the power to control other machines from a distance, earning her the nickname “Alphie” from Taylor. The side of the robot’s head is engraved with the words “Alpha-Omega.”

The movie is quite entertaining, with Edwards’ clean and organized portrayal of action scenes and battles, along with occasional striking visuals. NOMAD flies gracefully through the sky like a victorious angel from Neon Genesis Evangelion, using a blue light curtain to scan the ground for any rebellious elements. When it discovers them, it unleashes a rocket-powered slug that causes a heavenly explosion. This scene is reminiscent of Indra’s lightning bolts or God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and is made even more impactful by Edwards’ use of sound – the hum of the blue curtain, the phht! of the missile, the tense silence, and the deafening roar. Edwards has a knack for depicting massive, stealthy predators, as seen in his portrayal of a surprisingly agile Godzilla lurking on the edges of the movie before making a grand entrance in the epic finale – making NOMAD the sleek and sinister high-tech equivalent.

The weakest aspect of the film is its script. The premise is original enough: another conflict between humans and robots (inspired by Blade Runner, according to Edwards) where humans are portrayed as oppressive American military and robots as brave Vietnamese insurgents. One major difference is that Blade Runner has a film noir feel, whereas this movie purposely references imagery from Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone; for instance, the scene where a US soldier holds a gun to a crying Vietnamese (or “New Asian”) child while bargaining for a dog is directly taken from Platoon. The language used is just as simplistic: Americans portrayed as violent aggressors in a peaceful Southeast Asian country (although the film was actually shot in Thailand) — we are not meant to question if the American military may have a valid argument (as the nuking of Los Angeles is what sparked the conflict), or if we can trust AIs to not wipe out humanity once they gain power.


The story relies on characters making foolish choices, which can be frustrating for viewers (if you intend to watch the movie, you may want to skip the following three paragraphs).

NOMAD is a prime example of excessive spending: using a trillion dollars on the largest drone in the world may be a questionable use of taxpayer funds. It serves as an easy target for enemy missiles and serves as a powerful symbol to rally against for groups such as the New Asians and AIs who firmly oppose Western invasion. Additionally, the decision to make the counterweapon a child who is still developing into its full power raises questions – why not simply build an adult version with added batteries? However, this raises the question of whether an adult model, even if it resembled Arnold Schwarzenegger, would have the same charm and appeal. When the bipedal bomb swiftly runs across the bridge, seemingly immune to small-arms fire, no one considers destroying the bridge. Similarly, when Alphie and Taylor are surrounded by robot police, no one thinks to ask Alphie to deactivate them.

Taylor is selected for a new mission after old footage of Maya walking is discovered, with analysis confirming that she is human. However, when Taylor finds Maya in a coma after five years, no one bothers to explain the discrepancy. Taylor devises a plan to sneak Alphie onto NOMAD, but fails to consider the consequences of temporarily halting NOMAD’s operations and causing the destruction of more AIs. When Harun, a former ally and simulant portrayed by Ken Watanabe, claims that the destruction of Los Angeles was an accident and not the fault of the AIs, Taylor blindly believes him without questioning the truth. This raises the question of whether Taylor trusts Harun too much or if he is simply gullible. Alternatively, if the argument over who is to blame is irrelevant, why not acknowledge it?

Similarly, the military has informed us that when Alphie is shut down, she would typically be transported to NOMAD for evaluation. However, they have chosen to immediately cremate her. Could the writers have simply sent her directly to NOMAD, or was another escape sequence necessary, this time involving an armored vehicle? When Alphie discovers a Maya simulant on NOMAD and devotes valuable time to attempting to revive her, while Taylor waits in the escape pod, did anyone consider the possibility that Alphie’s side mission could have resulted in Taylor’s death? Perhaps this development could be utilized in some way?

The film’s emotional core is Taylor’s evolving connection with Alphie, which becomes the focus and draws the audience in. By the end, we are rooting for them to stay together. While Alphie’s character could use more development, she is intentionally portrayed as a blank canvas, leaving room for a unique personality to be formed. Unlike other Hollywood films, she is not the typical sassy and sarcastic child.

Edwards used an intriguing approach in creating the film. Instead of filming on a set, he chose to shoot on location and then enhance the footage with special effects during post-production. This method allowed him to make the film for only $80 million, a fraction of the potential $300 million cost. Despite some flaws in the story and plot, the end result is visually impressive.

The stance on machine intelligence presented in the film is particularly intriguing as it goes against the common fear surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and instead promotes embracing it (which the character Taylor does literally). Interviews with director Edwards suggest that he may have taken this position opportunistically without much consideration, which could be unfortunate considering the film’s low box office earnings of $32 million in its opening weekend. If one is going to risk commercial success with a controversial idea, it would be more worthwhile if it were at least thought-provoking. The concept of “Love thy enemy” is not a new one, as it can be found in the Bible. A similar theme can be seen in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, where a rogue computer elicits more sympathy from the audience than any other character due to the calm and cool voice of the actor on the soundtrack, highlighting the onset of panic and mental decline.

At this point, we have this situation, which is not as negative as anticipated, but also not as positive as desired.