The Pod Generation Review

The Pod Generation
The Pod Generation
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Science fiction, as much about the present as it is about the future, however, ends up quite strangely not being about either. Depicting a couple’s choice to give birth with an artificial womb right out of the Apple Store, it offers a lot of hints on this front and present hot-button technological issues but ultimately settles into a lukewarm domestic comedy-drama. It does not concentrate on parenting much, hence fails to make use of its own sleek futuristic design, or its own leads: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Emilia Clarke who make for an entertaining couple but who find it difficult to add thematic significance to what little there is on the page. Sophie Barthes wrote and directed The Pod Generation which doesn’t so much play coy with its location and timeline as simply forgets to name them until about an hour in.

Perhaps, it is all-inclusive though such details look half-cooked. Rachel (Clarke) is a plain but practical professional with her interior life limited largely to her instantaneous reactions, she resides together with Alvy (Ejiofor), an academic husband whose passion for nature – one that’s fast disappearing in this somewhat sterile future – saves The Pod Generation from being completely uninteresting. There are no natural plants these days; holographic pictures have replaced them (although we are informed rather than shown). 3D-printed food simulating proper meals is never commented upon in terms of flavor or texture. This misses the point since Alvy fetishizes reality in general.

He is a botanist at a time when this vocation no longer pays off; therefore Rachel brings home some synthetic bacon as she works at some vague start-up that seems involved in something related to celebrity social media profiles plus NFTs and AI home assistants (not sure exactly what it means but you know some buzzwords).

Initially, the central conflict of the film surrounds Rachel’s decision to have a remote pregnancy without Alvy’s knowledge after she takes her employer’s advice and enrolls in the high-tech institute called The Womb Center where her fetus would live in an egg-shaped pod. This is meant to be something weird, tense, and highly pertinent – between a woman who has been put under pressure by her corporate overlords’ decision, and a man who refuses to surrender the nature for technology thus they cannot agree on how to safely bring up their child.

However, most of these threads are wrapped up much sooner (and much more neatly) than you’d expect. Most of The Pod Generation consists of lengthy scenes where Alvy gets more used to the device that holds his future child and Rachel becomes increasingly distracted as she considers giving birth the natural way. The original perspectives eventually change (although this occurs instantaneously rather than gradually), and their disputes as a couple are swiftly resolved too but only long enough for them to appear like a momentary throughline with dramatic significance.

In the meantime, The Pod Generation continually alludes to its own ideas and implications; at one point even calling the womb “the political issue of our time.” This story would seem to be rife with loaded narratives of technology’s encroachment in every aspect of modern life – but it would require a differentiated political position. There are moments when both main characters become frustrated with their Siri-like assistants (why not simply switch them off? It is never asked), and also instances when they introduce a few overbearing AI tech for a brief social satire. Yet, few of these notions and theories are given enough incubation time before the attention returns back to the central, distorted account of parenthood.

All these future images always flash on the screen, but they don’t sum up well in ways that either affect the story or reveal any interesting dimensions to Rachel and Alvy’s world. Genuine money can be used alongside virtual currency as seen through such things as an $8,700 deposit at The Womb Center or breathing fresh air next to a plant which costs eGold but there is no comparison between such figures nor other prices generally speaking made and lack of clear timeline makes it difficult what amount a dollar might be worth right now.

We have no sense of whether these sums are considered tiny or large; do Rachel and Alvy argue about pocket change or major investments? Likewise, Alvy reading from a print magazine could tell us something more about him since we don’t see anyone else using analog books – or any books at all in fact. Beyond dialogue references concerning Alvy, there isn’t a visual sense if his hobby is rare or indicates how deeply he is rooted in history.

The movie’s attempts to critique corporate capitalism are just as half-baked, with fleeting comments from various supporting characters about human obsolescence and the way this new world functions. On very few occasions however, does the real impact of these hierarchies come out. The stakes are mostly assumed rather than felt, and while Barthes’ camera is largely unobtrusive, it’s also un-stylistic when it comes to creating meaning, tension, comedy, or momentum within the frame. For Rachel and Alvy, anytime they defy the Center’s supposedly vice-grip terms of service however results in nothing narratively interesting enough to give them personal troubles. Not only does the film misuse its dystopian premise and utopian production design but it also fails at capturing how these two might clash. Since almost all of its conflicts are resolved with a snap of a finger, it hardly ever engages the viewer on the most basic dramatic level.

Even more, its awkward tone is worse. It is torn between the disposition of being sincere and pointless ironic satire that rarely translates into the characters’ lines and acts having anything to do with drama or theme. The decisions they make are rarely explained and what they actually happen to be becomes meaningless too often as if Clarke and Ejiofor did their best to make us believe Rachel and Alvy have found themselves in a predicament. The Pod Generation, if anything else, presents a future that is simple, easy enjoyable with no much thinking required.


The Pod Generation partakes in some science fiction satire, and futuristic dramedy bits while it remains sterile almost completely. This piece aims at making high-level statements about our world as well as women’s politics of women and workers’ self-governance. But except for the sleek technological designs it tries to criticize it has little else to say.

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