The Movie Guru: ‘The Creator’ heartbreaking, while ‘Dumb Money’ more fact than story

'The Creator' is now playing in theaters.
20th Century Studios/Courtesy photo

The Creator (in theaters)

There’s not enough serious, thoughtful sci-fi coming out of Hollywood these days.

One movie looking to buck that trend is Gareth Edward’s “The Creator,” opening this weekend. Though the trailers keep trying to make it look like an action film, the movie is really a tense, heartbreaking perspective shift of a classic sci-fi trope. There are a handful of good action scenes, but those aren’t the moments you’ll still find lingering in your thoughts days later.

After a deft opening explaining the history of A.I. in the world of the movie, the movie follows a vet scarred by an experience from five years before. When he’s tempted by the hope that his wife is still alive, he plunges back into a battle that makes him question everything he’s ever believed.

The movie is beautifully constructed, with classic sci-fi tropes put together in satisfying, sometimes unexpected ways. The opening scenes offer some of the best twists, but there are a few moments later that might surprise you. Even if you can see them coming, the story beats are so narratively right that you’ll be happy to see them land just as you predicted.

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The acting, however, is what gives the movie its depth. John David Washington is fantastic as the vet, balancing a complicated role that requires everything from villainy to serving as the movie’s emotional anchor. There’s a long time where he’s not sure which side he’s on, and Washington makes us see and understand every moment of that journey.

The real heart of the movie is newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles. She has an even more complicated role than Washington in some ways, and she captures every nuance so well it will break your heart. She’s only a kid now, but if she keeps this up we’ve got a future superstar on our hands.

Together, they bring classic sci-fi beautifully to life.

Grade: Three and a half stars

Dumb Money (in theaters)

Do you remember when GameStop stocks got the news a few years ago? Did you wonder why you should care?

If you answered yes, or missed the whole thing but are suddenly interested, then “Dumb Money” is the movie for you. A fictionalized account of how regular, everyday investors went to war against Wall Street over GameStop stocks, the movie is a rousing story about the little guy fighting back. While the movie’s urge toward thoroughness saps some of its dramatic potential, it offers an interesting look at an odd story.

For those who don’t know, short selling is when investment firms get more profit by a stock price going down instead of up. When these firms targeted GameStop, however, a YouTuber who talked about finance bought a lot of shares and made a video about how much he believed in the stock. A lot of regular people bought stock, prices rose, the investment firms lost money, and more people bought stock. Repeat until Wall Street panics.

Though the movie misses the fact that a lot of big-time investors also bought a ton of GameStop stock, it tries to be accurate enough to include actual testimony video. Unfortunately, it’s the parts they didn’t copy from reality that are the most compelling. The imagined stories of individual investors had the kind of fear, hope and drama I look for in movies.

The rest of it is interesting, but might have been more effective in a book.

Grade: Two and a half stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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