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We’re Not Sure How To Feel About The Premise Of Netflix’s New Movie

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of Netflix originals — Stranger Things, The Crown, Grace & Frankie, you name it — as well as non-Netflix movies and shows classified as science-fiction. But Netflix's upcoming original film, iBoy, starring GoT's Maisie Williams, looks like it seriously misses the mark. The movie, supposedly based on the 2011 book iBoy by Kevin Brooks, is centered around Tom (played by Bill Milner), who Netflix says is "an average teenager whose world is turned on its head when a violent encounter with local thugs leaves fragments of his shattered smartphone embedded in his brain." As with Tom's superhero predecessors of Marvel descent — Spider-Man, Iron Man, Jessica Jones — his encounter results in superpowers. In this case, digital superpowers that allow Tom to see lots of numbers. His world is our world, but one coated in a cyber network film. Where does Williams come in? She's the damsel in distress, and Tom, with his newfound strength, is positioned as her vigilante. I wish it was Williams, and not the geeky teenage Tom, who was given these tech powers in the film adaptation. That would be one small step toward transcending outdated stereotypes, which position boys with computers, as girls look helplessly on (or play with their dolls). I have yet to see the full movie — I've only watched the trailer, which was released yesterday — so I can only hope that Williams ends up as the hero. But if the trailer is representative of the whole film, Williams' character looks to be the victim. Another thing I can't help noticing is that iBoy doesn't sound like something you'd expect to see coming out in 2017. The special effects might be advanced, but the film's premise feels about 15 years too late for the screen. When you consider that iRobot came out in 2004, iBoy looks and sounds even more outdated. As evidenced by the latest tech releases and continuing expansion of Alexa and Siri, AI presents far more interesting dilemmas than a shattered smartphone. (Unless that phone is the now-discontinued exploding Galaxy Note 7.) We won't know how good or bad iBoy is until it premieres on Netflix on January 27. But I have a feeling that I'll prefer to see Williams as the sword-wielding Arya Stark.
This piece was updated on Tuesday, January 17, with details about Kevin Brooks' iBoy.

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