The Creator - 20th Century Studios
The Creator – 20th Century Studios

British filmmaker Gareth Edwards’ ambitious “The Creator” abounds with extraordinary visuals, utilizing the very best technology available today – which is why it’s a shame that he neglects to supply an intriguing plot to support his timely spectacle.

It’s all about Hollywood’s current obsession with artificial intelligence, exploring AI’s utopian and dystopian possibilities.

Set in the 2060s, when humans and robots are able to reproduce, it begins as Joshua (John David Washington, Denzel’s son), an undercover special forces agent, sees his very pregnant ‘simulant’ wife Maya (Gemma Chan) killed just as they’re being extracted from an explosive attack. 

Years later, still-grieving Joshua is summarily recruited for a new mission. In the interim, AI seems to have gone rogue, igniting a nuclear attack on Los Angeles. For self-preservation, humans now rely on an immense airship – the USS Nomad – to seek out and eliminate all AI facilities around the world.

But when a brilliant scientist named ‘Nimrata’ in New Asia perfects an AI superweapon that could destroy Nomad, Joshua is dispatched, having been told that Maya may, perhaps, still be alive. 

Operating under orders from ruthless Colonel Howell (Allison Janney), Joshua discovers the so-called superweapon is actually a synthetic child whom he calls Alphie  (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). Somehow, she possesses a telekinetic power to control electronics.

While there’s supposed to be a surrogate father-daughter dynamic, it’s woefully under-developed – which works to the detriment of audience involvement. Instead, there’s an overload of gritty man vs. machine fighting that sends viewers into a superficial stupor – as style overwhelms substance.

Co-writing with Chris Weitz, director Edwards gingerly lifts ideas and iconography from “Blade Runner,”  “A.I.,” “Baraka,” “Akira,” “Apocalypse Now” and his own “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”  Yet filming in Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal and other exotic locations with cinematographers Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer, Edwards manages to make his $80 million budget look like twice that.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Creator” is a stunning sci-fi 6, playing in theaters.

Spy Kids--Armageddon - Photo Netflix
Spy Kids–Armageddon – Photo Netflix

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) celebrates Hispanic and Latino history and culture, so it’s the perfect time to introduce children to Robert Rodriguez’ beloved franchise’s newest entry “Spy Kids: Armageddon.”

Directed by Texas-based Rodriguez from a script he wrote with his now-grown son Racer Max – and with another son, Rebel, composing the music – it begins with OSS (Organization of Super Spies) secret agents Nora Torrez (Gina Rodriguez) and Terrence Tango (Zachary Levi) whose precocious children – Patty (Everly Cargailla) and Tony (Connor Esterson) – have already tapped into their sleuthing genes.

Sneaking around in their device-laden, sleekly contemporary glass-and-steel home to try to snag extra computer time, Tony is so obsessed with the popular video game Hyskor that he will even resort to cheating to win. On the other hand, his sister Patty insists on total honesty.

But when Tony accidentally helps unscrupulous game developer Rey “The King” Kingston (Billy Magnussen) unleash a potentially deadly computer virus that will allow him to control all technology around the globe, he and Patty must dive into the Hyskor video-game-world, battling robotic adversaries, to retrieve what’s been stolen from their parents.

Their PG-rated action-adventure includes some attention-catching visual challenges, like a super-tech car, loaded with gadgets, building blocks that emerge and disappear, giant fly swatters, along with the need to balance on wobbling platforms in order to reach an underwater safe house.  

Robert Rodriguez’s original “Spy Kids” was released in 2001, starring Carla Gugino & Antonio Bandaras with Daryl Sabara and Alexa PenaVega as their kids. Since then, there have been four additional “Spy Kids” installments, including this.

FYI: Hispanic and Latino are often interchangeable terms used to describe Americans with diverse Latin American and Caribbean ancestry. The month-long celebration honors their resilience and determination for independence. 

On the Granger Gauge, “Spy Kids: Armageddon” is a fun, fantastical, family-centric 6, streaming on Netflix.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.