What is it?
The Creator is the latest science fiction project from nascent genre auteur Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), about a dystopian future in which humans fight a dwindling A.I. population, and more specifically the relationship between a man (John David Washington) and an android girl named Alfie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
The film is a marvelous “grand folly” – a brainstorm of great ideas, philosophical dilemmas and mise-en-scènes that are construed in a rather haphazard way, but that is impossible not to love. The organic meets the mechanic as technology and nature merge in retro-fitted landscapes. Airy flashbacks and contemplation meet hard-hitting confrontations and war scenes reminiscent of imperial invasions throughout history (especially the Vietnam war) as it tries to pose moral and ethical questions about what constitutes humanity, and our obligations and feelings towards our own creations.
Edwards was fortunate to get his first choice for composer, the always reliable Hans Zimmer, to do the score, with additional music by Steve Mazzaro. Mazarro and Zimmer have collaborated several times before, including Neil Blomkamp’s similarly A.I.-themed film Chappie (2015), but their work on The Creator raises the bar for both of them.
How is it?
This score took me by complete surprise. Zimmer’s involvement was announced relatively late in the game, but the combination of the composer himself, Edwards, A.I., Asia and science fiction was an instant teaser. And it delivered in spades, becoming Zimmer’s best work since Interstellar in 2014, no less.
The score is sparsely spotted (relatively speaking for a Hollywood blockbuster), which makes the music stand out in central scenes. While the action cues aren’t terribly exciting, adhering to the contemporary, ostinato-driven style that might – at times – feel overpowering, only a few cues represent this aspect on the album («Surrounded», «Missile Launch», «Lab Raid»). The rest of the score focusses on the gorgeous spiritual and emotional aspect of the story.
I shed a tear upon hearing the tracks «A Place in the Sky» and «Heaven», both referencing the watery, oriental instrumentation of my alltime favourite Zimmer score, Beyond Rangoon (1995). Not quite on that level, of course (nothing is!), and driven more by an acoustic string section than the blissful, bubbly synths of the 1995 film, but still the closest he’s ever been to that style in almost 30 years. Likewise, the gorgeous organ in «Prayer» mirrors the composer’s haunting Interstellar, while a lot of the score generally moves through large, lofty chord progressions connoting space and afterlife – culminating in the final, melodramatic track «True Love», which becomes an almost E.T.-like climax in the film (Edwards has cited E.T. as an influence).
It warms my heart that Zimmer still manages to tap into the more outrovert, melodically sophisticated landscapes that I fell in love with in the 90s, with great dynamic range and curated beautifully at a perfect 44 minutes, creating a stupendous concept album that merges the ethereal with the gritty. One of the year’s best scores.