The visual world is fascinating, but the story lays an egg.
I’m a slow learner when it comes to some of today’s modern amenities. You know smart homes, smart watches, and smart phones. I have a MacBook Pro, iPhone, and Apple Watch, and I’m still able to adapt to their features.
The reason I’m letting you loyal readers know the situation on my end is because “The Pod Generation” is set in a futuristic New York, where smart homes basically talk like they’re autistic, therapists are in the form of giant eyeballs in the center of flowers, people walk on treadmills at their desks, and they use breathing equipments at cafes. At least I think they’re breathing equipments, and at least I think they’re cafes.
On a certain level, I was reminded on Spike Jonze’s “Her,” which about Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely having romantic feelings for his operating system in a futuristic Los Angeles. That film was made on a budget of $23 million, and I’m not sure how much this cost to make. And yet, they both look and feel fascinating and expensive.
But the story, written and directed by Sophie Barthes (“Madame Bovary,” “Cold Souls”), starts to head down familiar territory. It regards company policies, birth questions (which we’ll get to soon), and how it basically disrespect people from previous generations, who hate how technology has to consume the hard work of people.
Rachel (Emilia Clarke) is a successful businesswoman, who is waitlisted to have a child born in an artificial womb known as a pod. She doesn’t tell her botanist husband Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), because he prefers the “natural” way. What does he mean by “natural?” You know as nature intended: sexual intercourse. The way a woman can get pregnant without computers or whatever this high tech stuff is.
These pods will allow the baby to hear what goes on in the world, and has an app to give them relaxing music or sounds (they basically love whale sounds), and when to feed them. How? I don’t know. It’s basically an egg.
And it’s apparently so popular, that an open spot would be a miracle.
Rachel gets that spot, although Alvy is skeptical that they shouldn’t start a family under pressure, especially if the decision would be this pod. He agrees to go through with this.
If you want a boy, the husband would give off his chromosome, but if it’s a girl, then it would be just the wife’s chromosomes. They both decide to “let nature decide.” And of course, during the preparations, they have their trails and tribulations.
Clarke and Ejiofor both give lively performances in their own ways of dealing with the times and challenges of waiting for their baby to be born in this pod. They have to know how to charge it, soothe it, feed it, or whatever computer stuff they have to do in order to make sure the unborn baby survives in it. And all this technology, including the eye therapist, looks like a visual wonder.
“The Pod Generation” has good ideas and some dazzling images, but it doesn’t really push itself to new limits. “Her” was released a decade ago, and even on a small scale, it still know how to embrace us into the would-be romance between a man and his virtual assistant. This one is a little too spoiled and less considerate of the past for me to really be engaged in.
All things considered, when your kids ask where babies come from, now you can tell them they come from eggs.
In Select Theaters This Friday
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.