4. Marjorie Prime
Release: Unknown, debuted in Sundance in January 2017
Before the Internet, there were lost souls all over the globe who could never find someone who might understand them. When they suddenly had the means to communicate with people all over the world, and establish communities with similar interests and neurotic dysfunctions, none of them should be feel lonely anymore.
The Internet proved that someone out there shares your outlandish opinions and obsessive fascinations. No matter how weird you think you are, go on the Internet and you’ll discover that the world belongs to the weirdos and that there’s a weirdo out there for everyone.
This is an example of how technology can change our relationship with ourselves, but most importantly, our relationships with other people. Yet, while reading this, you might think the Internet in an absolute godsend, and a cure against alienation. As many people know, it isn’t that simple and it has in many cases even caused more alienation, causing people to distance themselves inwardly and find empty companionship, and as the social crisis in Japan is proving, in superficial computer programs.
Technology, in effect, could cause disturbances, even in our relationships with clear-cut notions of life and death. In “Marjorie Prime”, for example, an elderly woman suffering from dementia comes face-to-face to with her deceased husband in holographic form. This holographic program is assembled from bits and pieces of data that challenges her own version of this man who is long gone.
This is something that people will have to deal with, as future technology will certainly try to alleviate our grief. The effect this will have on our grief process is questionable; it will either make us move on faster, or it will make us hold onto our loss even more. These are the dangers that come with newly expansive technology as it collides with our fragile minds. Only time will tell how we will deal with this.
The film is based on a beautiful Pulitzer Prize-winning play and will center around four people (and a hologram). Lois Smith will play the title role, as she had done so previously on stage. It will focus on her relationship between her daughter (played by Geena Davis), her son-in-law (played by Tim Robbins), and her late husband (in the form of a holographic Jon Hamm).
The film has received plenty of positive acclaim from its first screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Since it’s based on a play, it will be obvious that the film will feel like like a stage adaptation. Some might be taken aback by this, but fans of plays in general should prepare themselves for something very special.
3. Alien: Covenant
Release: 18th May
If you find paradise somewhere in the galaxy, how do you know if you are invited? And what if this paradise isn’t for you, but for some ghastly predator that loves nothing more than to feast on your body? In fact, when you disturb the ecosystem of this planet, spores will fill the sky and enter your body where these frightening lifeforms will grow and grow, until they are ready to exit your body in a most gruesome manner…
This the scenario we can expect from Ridley Scott’s third entry of the “Alien” world. Ever since we saw a baby Xenomorph burst from the late great John Hurt’s chest, we were hooked. The creature has so far appeared in seven movies (including a cameo of an earlier evolutionary model, known as the Deacon in “Prometheus”) and countless comic books. Most fans probably know that most of these films did not do justice to this monster. In particular, his clashes with the Predator had left countless fans disappointed.
This film could redeem the franchise in a huge way. Many are right to be skeptical, however, since this will be a sequel to “Prometheus”, the unhinged mess that was supposed to be a prequel to the first “Alien” film. However, the rewrites and incredibly poor characterizations made the film a huge missed opportunity, especially since it’s a film that both looked beautifully and dealt with interesting themes (an alternative theory to the origins of humanity, and a violent meeting with our maker).
Much of the blame can be given to writer Damon Lindelof, who has a knack for screwing up great potential franchises; he had his tainted scribbled hands on “World War Z”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, and let’s not forget “Lost”.
Yet, much of the failures of “Prometheus” could lie in its clashing vision. It’s possible that Scott had less of an interest in making an “Alien” prequel and was far more interested in portraying an advanced intelligence creating the human race. It could also be the studio’s wish for a franchise, since in its first script it had been a direct prequel and then later elongated as the first of a new trilogy.
Despite this, various actors from “Prometheus” will reprise their roles. Guy Pearce is set to make a cameo as a younger version of Peter Weyland, Noomi Rapace is set to return as the last woman of Prometheus (though her fate doesn’t seem too positive), and Michael Fassbender will return as David, as well as playing a more advanced android based on David’s model called Walter.
Double Fassbender is never a bad thing, especially since he did such an incredible job before; though as we all know, Fassbender’s resume is filled with one fantastic performance after another. Fassbender will star alongside Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride (who seems to kick some ass in the trailer), the always reliable Demian Bichir, and even James Franco is set to appear.
From the title alone, we can assume this will be a pure “Alien” movie and less of a “Prometheus” sequel. Set 10 years after the doomed expedition of Prometheus, a new space crew on board The Covenant find a seemingly beautiful inhabited paradise. In the trailer, we see the film’s heroin (Waterston) asking her captain (Crudup) if he’s sure about this, warning him that they don’t know what’s out there.
We know what’s out there, even if we saw only glimpses of this in the trailer. Different evolutionary types of Xenomorphs (such as the Neomorph) will slaughter these poor unfortunate souls on screen. Yes, it’s going to be terrible for them, but truth be told, most of us can’t wait to see it transpire on screen.
2. The Discovery
Release: 31st March
“People are just gonna keep killing themselves,” says a distraught Jason Segel at the end of the trailer of “The Discovery”. The trailer had a disturbed rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” as we see the worried faces of its principal cast (Segel, Kate Mara, the great Robert Redford, and Jesse Plemons), a person shooting himself in the head, and black-and-white footage of people on screen, one of them in particular staring straight at us. It’s an eerie trailer, but if you’re anything like me, you want to know more. Especially about this particular ”discovery” that makes people want to kill themselves.
What’s the discovery? There is an afterlife. Nobody really dies, we just pass on.
Now things are getting a bit more clear, even though we suspect the film will have more than one surprise for us. The idea that we will have a scientific confirmation of an afterlife will plunge most of our species into an existential whirlwind. The motivation to end your life and start a new one will seem very tantalizing.
It could give our lives so much more meaning, but at the same time, as discussed above, scientific discoveries could give the opposite effect. A newly-formed and much more potent form of nihilism might emerge as people have less to fear, as the consequence of not existing anymore after death has vanished. A new sort of depression might emerge, even if it seems that the biggest answer of all has been answered.
The film will have a cult-like commune, led by the scientific discovery of the afterlife (played by Robert Redford), who’s trying to persuade his members to keep on living. If this film will delve deep enough into its themes, which seems likely based on the looks of its dark trailer, this might be one of the most fascinating films of the year.
What happens to the human world when they have an answer to one of the world’s biggest questions? Yes, there is an afterlife. Death is not the end. The implications of this on our society and human relationships might be more frightening than we could have ever imagined.
And so it goes; we discover and we rejoice and then, if we’re not careful, we fall apart.
1. Blade Runner 2049
Release: 5th October
At first glance, a sequel to the science fiction masterpiece “Blade Runner”, more than 30 years later, seems like another cash grab. For the past few years we’ve seen an abundance of sequels to much beloved films, and many of them turned out to be painful disappointments. So why such excitement for “Blade Runner 2049”?
Simply put, because of Denis Villeneuve. His last four English-language films have all the potential of becoming classics, but even before this, what with “Polytechnique” and especially “Incendies”, we could see the beginning of an extraordinary filmmaker. “Arrival” proved that Villeneuve could handle intelligent science fiction, and if this film will have the same sensitivity and intelligence, it could one of the year’s best films.
Ridley Scott worked closely on the development of this film but opted to direct “Alien: Covenant” instead. With Scott’s approval, however, this film seems to be in perfect hands since Villeneuve has yet to fail his audience.
Villeneuve himself has confessed into being a huge fan of the original work and has addressed the immense pressure he feels to making sure this film will work: “I know that every single fan will walk into the theater with a baseball bat,” which is an understatement to say the least. ” It’s gonna be the biggest risk of my life but I’m okay with that. For me it’s very exciting… I love it too much, so I said, ‘Alright, I will do it and give everything I have to make it great.'”
Our favorite Blade Runner returns as well, though his role is shrouded in mystery. The short teaser to the film seems to have a Rick Deckard in hiding, but his presence alone is troublesome, since him being alive debunks him being a replicant. This alone made many fans nervous, but Villeneuve has assured us that he will take good care of the mystery, and so we will have to wait until October for some clarity on the issue.
Ryan Gosling will be the film’s new Blade Runner named Officer K. Again, like most of the roles in the film (filled by the likes of Robin Wright, Barkhad Abdi, and David Bautista), much is shrouded in mystery. What is evident from the short teaser alone is that this film will look beautiful (which is not a large feat since Roger Deakins is the cinematographer).
“Blade Runner” is also an important film that deals with many of the futuristic issues our species is likely to be dealing with. In a way, the issues of pollution, corporations, and artificial intelligence are only more pressing now. Maybe Deckard will become this film’s Batty and will teach K what it means to be human, because we do need a reminder.
The world of “Blade Runner” is much like our world, and replicants of “Blade Runner” are much like us. And like them it’s easy to forget that our time is short and absolutely precious. In time, our being and our lives will become indistinguishable from the tears in the rain.
It’s good to be back. Even if things are different now than they were then.
Author Bio: Chris van Dijk is a writer and a self-proclaimed cinematic-connoisseur who started his unhealthy obsession with film at a very young age. He’s famous for being an incredible slob, taking himself way too seriously and getting along brilliantly with anyone who agrees with him.