Greatland has a unique style and is thought-provoking at times, but ultimately it’s overwhelmingly complicated plot seems to drag. The film takes place in a distant future where love conquers all. In this culture, the “stone-age of procreation” (sex) is not needed to reproduce. People are free to love what they want (plant, animal or human). Ulysses (Arman Darbo) turns 15 and is given a rabbit as his son by a seemingly AI being in charge who everyone refers to as “mother”. Everyone also wears a smartwatch that senses thoughts and has the AI or “mother” inside so she can talk to them. The majority of people in Greatland believe they cannot die and refer to death as a “virus”. Seem confusing enough? This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Some of the more thought-provoking aspects of Greatland reflect, current social problems in our society. For example, the idea that people in Greatland were following an AI on their wrist who they thought of as a “great” is interesting commentary on the increasing glorification of technology in our lives. The watches’ ability to read their thoughts is an obvious nod to the invasion of privacy that has been debated in regards to technology and social media. There are other references to people identifying as felines, which can be an alluded reference to people identifying as a different sexual orientation or gender in our culture.
As mentioned, in this world, there are “greats” everyone models themselves after because the beings are seen as all loving, tolerant and inclusive. It is hard to tell, but it seems the film is attempting to demonstrate a reality that is excessively tolerant. This is a very extreme example as some people in this world fall in love with trees declaring them as their life partner. The society seems to focus on making the population as diverse, loving and inclusive as possible.
The main character, Ulysses’ name is an obvious nod to The Odyssey, which the film hammers home by literally pointing it out and giving the character a copy of the novel. Eventually Ulysses runs away in search of the girl he grew up with who he refers to as “ugly duck”. He smashes his watch and rebels, running away from the convoluted society in search of his friend. During his journey he learns the truth about Greatland and his world is turned upside down. Arman Darb, who plays Ulysses, gives a very mediocre performance. There are a few times he becomes upset and it always continually resembles a laughable tantrum
.The style of the film is very unique but still feels a bit amateur. It has bright colors that are in-your-face and very fantasy-like. It feels as if a college student tried to imitate Baz Luherman. The style got a little normalized once Ulysses left Greatland to reflect the change in setting. Although Greatland did have a unique aesthetic and social commentary, it ultimately fell flat. The plot was convoluted and hard to follow. There were parts that dragged and at times I found myself laughing at scenes that were not intended to be funny. The performances were also not nearly strong enough to salvage the film.
Verdict: 1.5 out of 5 Stars
Overall, Greatland feels like an amateur mess. It feels like something a college student would make, except they are trying to imitate a director who cannot be replicated with that sort of budget. I wish this was a better movie, because some concepts presented here were actually really interesting. It’s a shame that those concepts couldn’t be executed as well…or even as okay.