starring John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Allison Janney
screenplay by Gareth Edwards and Chris Weitz
directed by Gareth Edwards
by Walter Chaw Fifty-three minutes into Gareth Edwards's The Creator, there is a "What is Heaven?" talk between a hardened American soldier broken by grief and regret and a little Asian kid who happens to be a potentially world-destroying cyborg. The cyborg asks the question, and the G.I. says it's where people go when they're turned off, then clarifies that he won't be going there because only good people get into Heaven. The A.I. then observes they have something in common, as it, too, will be denied entrance to Heaven as a non-person and, it goes without saying, non-Christian. I think this is maybe a critique of Christianity, which believes that the 69% of people on this planet who do not share their beliefs will literally burn for an eternity in a lake of fire. Or perhaps it's a critique of American exceptionalism that believes we have the corner on morality, even as the country's engaged in vicious dynastic colonialism and has been since its conception. Mostly, and accidentally, it's a meta-critique of how whenever white creators seek to get all dewy-eyed about trans-humanism (see: Cloud Atlas), they tend to use Asian bodies as the battleground for their philosophical evolution, thus exposing a bias that should probably be examined with the help of non-white creators involved in the decision-making process. Why is it, they might ask these science-fictional advisors and creators, that when you talk about spiritual thought-leaders who transcend this mortal plane, the first thing you think of is a magical, mystical Oriental? Think hard.