Technology has certainly changed the way we see films or TV shows nowadays. It is indeed an exciting era. However, technology also makes for some truly fascinating stories on screen, as recent gems have shown, like Ex Machina, Eye in the Sky, or even Snowden; not to mention the classics, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Wall-E – and while we’re making lists, how about mindblowing TV shows like Mr. Robot and Black Mirror.
Since this is the beginning of the year, why don’t we take a look at some of the 2017 releases attempting to take on the subject, and add things up to see whether they will have what it takes to stand proudly alongside their predecessors.
What’s Inside: A college graduate (Emma Watson) lands a job at The Circle, a powerful technology company run by the mysterious Three Wise Men, including a tech genius, Bailey (Tom Hanks). At first she is charmed by the life at the company and climbs the corporate ladder really fast, until she discovers that the company has sinister motifs, especially with their invention SeeChange, a portable camera that can provide real-time videos and influence human lives in the most terrifying ways possible. Scheduled to be released in April this year.
The Power Button: The lack of star power in the director’s chair (James Ponsoldt, whose credits include mostly TV works and some small films like The Spectacular Now) is made up by the wattage of the cast. Watson has been involved in some pretty interesting projects lately, and not much needs to be said about Hanks. But the main attraction of this movie is really the source, David Egger’s best-selling novel, on which it was based, which poses interesting questions on the omnipotence of technology and what will happen if we go too far in letting it into our lives.
If you’ve been praying for someone to transfer the brilliant Netflix sensation Black Mirror onto the big screen, this is probably the best chance we have for now.
Ghost in the Shell
What’s Inside: The much anticipated techno action-thriller based on the popular Japanese manga series, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a counter-cyberterrorist field commander hunting down cyber criminals and hackers. She and her task force are now facing a powerful enemy trying to sabotage an artifical intelligence technology. Scheduled to be released in March.
The Power Button: The released trailer has been pretty breathtaking, visual-wise – as is Scarlett Johansson in a nude suit, for that matter. With the technology having finally caught up to bring the 1989 manga series to life, the film promises to be a feast of state-of-the-art special effects that will whet the appetite of all fanboys and fangirls. There has been some controversy about Johansson in the lead role being a case of whitewashing, but I doubt it will stop die-hard fans of the manga series – and the general audience – from swarming to the movies. So, consider this almost a guaranteed hit.
What’s Inside: In this third installment of the Cloverfield franchise, a team of astronauts on a space station find themselves alone in the universe, after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. Then, a space shuttle appears, and the crew on the space station soon find themselves fighting for survival following a horrible discovery. Scheduled to be released in February.
The Power Button: After Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), it’s always interesting to see what comes next in the “Cloververse”, although each story is not (necessarily) interconnected. The first movie was a terrifying and authentic experience despite the run-on-the-mill found footage method it was employing. The second movie was, surprisingly, a fascinating character study, although the fact that it was widely marketed as part of the Cloverfield franchise (and, of course, the title), made the payoff somewhat less effective.
That’s why, when the third movie is said to take place in outer space, it is fun to anticipate what the team has up its sleeve this time. And, the title might even still change, because the film is now often referred to as the Untitled Cloverfield Anthology Movie, which makes things even more mysterious… and exciting.
The film will star Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zhang Ziyi, and David Oyelowo; and with J. J. Abrams still serving as a producer, I must say, at least we know that the film is in safe hands.
World War Z 2
What’s Inside: We don’t know very much, at this stage, except for some vague, enigmatic points. One, the film might not pick up right after the first movie. Two, Brad Pitt will be returning. And three, the film is scheduled to be released in June.
The Power Button: In addition to being a totally riveting zombie apocalypse movie, the first film also presented a spine-tingling speculation of what could happen when technology advancement goes out of control, and how we can use it to counter the hell that it broke loose. It was also the highest grossing film of Brad Pitt’s career. The sequel is even more intriguing because David Fincher is reported to be at the helm, which makes the film highly anticipated for several reasons.
It will mark Fincher’s reunion with Pitt after The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). And it will be interesting to see what Fincher is going to do with the material – adding even more diversity of subjects to his portfolio. Adding to that, Pitt is not known to do many sequels in his career. So there has to be something irresistible drawing him to this project. And that certainly gets our attention.