The Pod Generation – Sundance 2023

Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel and Rosalie Craig appear in a still from The Pod Generation by Sophie Barthes, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Andrij Parekh.

The Pod Generation entered the 2023 Sundance Film Festival as an award winner but the sci-fi film falls short in its execution.

I needed over a week after the premiere to think about my feelings on the film. The more that I think about it, the more I end up not liking it. It’s a shame because this is a high-concept idea with an intriguing premise. Plus, it was a film that I anticipated going into Sundance because of its star power. Unfortunately, it ended up missing with me.

The Pod Generation takes place some time in a technology-obsessed future with the main setting being in New York. If there’s something that the film gets right, it’s the world’s current obsession with technology. ChatGPT is all the craze right no so it’s not even surprising to see AI taking the form of a therapist. I’m sorry but AI is no substitute for talking with the real thing. Anyway, the gist of the film is that Pegazus is offering couples the ability to get pregnant by way of artificial wombs aka pods. It’s like having a surrogate for one’s pregnancy but without someone physically getting pregnant. Of course, these pods don’t open up often so when one gets off of the waitlist, they don’t have long to talk it over and sign the contract.

Rising tech exec Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and botanist Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have differing ideas when it comes to pregnancies. If Alvy has his way, they would have a natural pregnancy. Rachel’s employers, on the other hand, would prefer that she not physically become pregnant especially after a promotion. Instead, they would rather Rachel utilize the Womb Center for any future pregnancies. Is this really what women’s liberation is all about? On paper, an idea such as the Womb Center sounds like fantastic idea for those couples are who are having trouble conceiving or are unable to become pregnant for one reason or another (take transgender people, for instance). Instead of pursuing a that route, they just go with the usual folks who have money instead.

There’s the whole idea of nature vs. technology to explore. This is where the film could have executed its storytelling in a better way. Instead, it falls short. Like I said, we’re already seeing it right now with the popularity of ChatGPT. How soon before we’re depending on AI for everything? Don’t answer that because I really don’t want to know. I mean, we’ve already seen The Terminator and know we’re in for doom when the robots take over.

The Pod Generation had the potential to be a strong satire on nature vs. technology but falls short.

CAST: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Jean-Marc Barr

The Pod Generation held its world premiere during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres program. Grade: 2/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.