REVIEWS

The Pod Generation Review: Babies Are Grown In Giant Eggs In This Quirky But Underwhelming Sci-Fi Comedy [Sundance]
  • Jan. 20, 2023 11:31 am EST

It's the future, and everything is stylish and quirky and colorful in "The Pod Generation," Sophie Barthes' underwhelming sci-fi comedy. While the future seems bright in appearance, there's a darkness lurking beneath it all, as humanity has more or less abandoned the natural world to embrace smart tech and AI that handles everything fo them. There are no more human therapists — just giant talking eyeballs that stare out from and offer boilerplate advice.

When someone wants to embrace nature, they hook themselves up to nature pods, which simulate the world that's still out there but has long since been left behind. In the midst of all this, we're introduced to Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a married couple who differ in opinion of their modern (future) world. While Rachel, a driven career woman, is fully on board with the automated world, Alvy, a botanist, longs for the old days, when people freely ate fresh food grown from plants instead of cooked up in a lab.

The couple is childless, but when an opportunity opens up at the Womb Center, Rachel jumps at the chance — without consulting Alvy. The Womb Center specializes in making babies, but in this futuristic world, women no longer need to have "natural" births. Instead, the babies are grown in egg-shaped pods. To make things even easier, parents-to-be don't even need to keep their pods at home — they can go about their lives until their babies are ready to hatch.

Great production design, lacking script

What a setup! It's a fantastical but not entirely unbelievable concept that hints at something fa greater than what "The Pod Generation" ends up being. Barthes and company do an excellent job at building this futuristic world, and the production design employed to create the future tech is impeccable. But the script, also by Barthes, is lacking. "The Pod Generation" keeps introducing ideas and never following through with them.

The Womb Center is clearly up to no good, but this is never explored further than on a surface level. Rachel is prone to strange dreams, but what they all mean is never explored. There's also a throwaway line about how some of the pod babies are unable to dream. Are their mothers dreaming fo them? I don't know. Neither does the film. I'm not saying everything needs to be spelled out to the letter, but a little more exploration on these ideas would go a long way.

What "The Pod Generation" lacks in cohesion it (mostly) makes up for in laughs. There are more than a few big comedy moments, mostly from the way Rachel and Alvy handle their impending parenthood, and how Alvy changes from completely against the idea to embracing it with his whole heart.

There are vague ideas here about motherhood, what it means to be a parent, and how having a baby — even without a pod — can be. But "The Pod Generation" seems to have no interest in exploring them. The film is ultimately funny and cute, but it could've been a lot more.

Slashfilm Rating: 5 out of 10