Tag Archives: satirical films

Invasion of the Body Hatchers

The Pod Generation

by George Wolf

There are some scary implications to be found, but The Pod Generation is no horror show. In this near future world, couples – and women, specifically – willingly line up for the chance to get pregnant outside the womb.

Writer/director Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls, Madame Bovary) cooks up a smart, darkly funny and satirical look at the many faces of “progress” that still gets stuck on repeat in the third act.

Rachel (Emilia Clarke) has a well-paid gig monitoring influencers (that’s a full-time job!) at a tech firm. Her husband Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a botanist and teacher. And from cognitive assistants to breathing bars and nature “sessions,” Rachel’s fine with all the comforts provided by technology, while Alvy is much more comfortable keeping things actually natural.

So there’s a conflict when Rachel gets an unexpected message from tech giant Pegazus. After years on the waitlist – there’s an opening at The Womb Center! Do Rachel and Alvy want to be next to grow their baby in a pod?

Alvy is plenty wary, but Linda, the Womb Center director (Rosalie Craig, terrific) is mighty persuasive. In a speech that feels like the cynical sister to America Ferrera’s truth bomb from Barbie, she wins the couple over with the reasons why women are no longer “victims of biology.”

We’ve seen films about the hidden dangers of technology for years now, but Barthes brings a slyly vital approach to the discussion, and gets a big assist from production designer Clement Price-Thomas. Everything in this world is sleek, futuristic and creepily intrusive, but just close enough to our own surroundings that we have no problem accepting it as possible (even probable).

Pair that with the excellent work from Clarke and Ejiofor, and Barthes has fertile ground to dig in. She peppers the outside with some dry, funny barbs about relationships and work life, while the meat in the middle takes on gaslighting and the slippery slope of trading control for convenience.

And yet, as big and worthy as these ideas are, you expect the pregnancy arc to end with a little more bite. There’s more than enough to keep us engaged while a desperate couple is weighing their options, but once it’s decision time, The Pod Generation doesn’t offer much beyond what we’ve known since we were amazed by the click wheel.

Days Of Our Lives


by George Wolf

We’ve been grappling with the falseness of our social media identities long enough now that we should have expected this attack of the movie clones. Dual takes the premise of last year’s Swan Song and filters it through the high concept lens of The Lobster for an absurdist comedy that – as my grandpa used to say – is as black as the inside of your hat.

Karen Gillan is Sarah, who coughs up a great amount of blood and learns she is going to die. Sarah is told what she has is “painless…but killing you,” as writer/director Riley Stearns begins taking direct aim at our current state of anxiety.

To save her boyfriend (Beulah Koale) and mother (Maija Paunio) from the pain of losing her, Sarah signs up for clone replacement. But as Sarah2 arrives and starts the assimilation process, the original Sarah’s diagnosis is reversed, and now we have a problem.

“We can’t have two of you walking around forever. That would be ridiculous.”

Sarah2 has been in the world long enough to invoke her right to request a “stay,” which means that in one year’s time, a duel to the death will leave only one Sarah bathing in the cheers from both a stadium and broadcast audience.

So Sarah1 gets to work, in an effort to prove to her battle trainer Trent (Aaron Paul) that she really wants to live, and win back her mom and her man who already like Sarah2 better.

Stearns trades his thriller vibe from 2019’s The Art of Self-Defense for a near-future sci-fi landscape and finds delightfully organic ways to bring us up to speed on the rules of the game. And with Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jumanji franchises), Stearns has the perfect partner to set the humor level on deadpan and never budge. The laughs come with a cynical, satirical bite, and while some may be a bit obvious, Stearns scatters other hilarious breadcrumbs just out of focus (don’t miss the title of the video Sarah is watching early on).

Dual doesn’t shy away from the absurdity of navigating a culture of death and winning Instagram posts. In fact, that’s where it lives, fully committed to finding out who really believes laughter is the best medicine.