Gareth Edwards delivers an epic sci-fi fantasy film at Fantastic Fest 2023 and in theaters nationwide on Friday, September 29th. The Rogue One director has given us an impressively stunning, visually exciting take on AI and humankind in the future with a clear and timely message. Surprisingly, he doesn’t put the United States at the forefront of “good” with this take on the future evolution of artificial intelligence.
After a devastating nuclear attack decimated Los Angeles, the US government banned all AI-human simulants and robotics. Set in the 2050s, the US has waged a decade-long war in the Republic of New Asia, attempting to destroy all the robots and the AI they harbor. In New Asia, AI simulants are treated as equals and live harmoniously with humans. Years after losing his wife (Gemma Chan), Joshua Taylor (John David Washington), a former undercover special forces agent, is sent back to New Asia with a squad led by an Army officer (Allison Janney) bent on hunting a super-weapon that the government claims will destroy everything. Joshua discovers the super-weapon comes in the form of a female simulant child who he dubs Alfie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). When he realizes what is happening, Joshua and Alfie race to save humanity (and simulants).
The star of Edward’s film is the special effects and remarkable rendering of the futuristic world and the robotics he has created. Yes, the human cast is also stellar, especially Yuna Voyles – hers is a breakout performance. Honestly, enough cannot be said about this talented young girl. Washington layers his performances; in this, he is clearly well-cast, while Allison Janney’s dark tone and cold delivery make her a compelling and effective villain. Edward and his team have created fabulous, awe-inspiring visuals and futuristic vistas, transporting audiences into realms beyond belief. It is perhaps worth seeing again, if for no more than to take a closer look at the stunning visual designs.
The Creator’s intense pacing, action sequences, brilliant imagery, and exceptional cast work tightly to create a breathtaking experience. Even if the story feels a bit cumbersome now and then, the film works because of the character development, the landscapes, its social commentary, and Edward’s attention to detail. There is so much to see, feel, and hear that it’s almost too much. Disney has backed a unique and refreshing science-fiction tale that deserves at least 4 stars.