Friday, December 16, 2016

Now on Netflix: Black Mirror Season 3 (2016)

Black Mirror Season 3 (2016) - Created by Charlie Brooker; Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, Wyatt Russell, Alex Lawther, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Malachi Kirby, Madeline Brewer, Kelly MacDonald.

By Kenny Howell

Charlie Brooker is really afraid of the power of technology, and after watching yet another season of Black Mirror, you should be too.

Season 3 once again runs the gamut of the terrible doors technology has opened for us. It opens with a dystopian view of the near future where social media is not an escape, but part of everyday life. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) plays a woman trying to keep her status up through daily interactions. This world has devolved into a place where you are rated on everyday interactions with other people. You go through the motions, then rate that person when you are done.

That is how status is judged, you need to maintain above a 4, 4.5 or above is elite, and everything below is shunned by society. Howard's Lacie is in the comfortable low 4 range, but needs to get a bit higher. She wants a new home, but she can only afford if she gets a discount afforded to people who are 4.5 or better. Luckily, a childhood friend Naomie, played by Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness), is getting married, and she is a 4.6. There will be nothing but 4.5 or above at the wedding, so it is Lacie's chance to get to the spot. Needless to say, by chance, she has a bad day, and everything spins out of control.

That is true of the five other episodes, which are all independent stories. The second is about a new immersive video game experience which may be too powerful for the human brain to handle, sending one man over the edge.

The third is a horrible real life game that a kid is forced to play after someone records him through his webcam masturbating and threatens to send it to all his contacts. They make him do a series of a dangerous activities along with other people they have held hostage.

The fourth is maybe the only that has any sort of optimism, as a young woman played by Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment) in the 1980s tries to traverse the social scene to find love. It goes in a way crazier direction than expected, but I will leave that to the viewing.

The fifth is weak in the beginning, but has an extremely clever twist about halfway through. It is about soldiers fighting these creatures called "roaches". The soldiers have implants in their eyes so they can see things better tactically, but the implant may be wrecking one of the soldier's brain which leads to the revelation.

The last is almost feature film length, a near future London where robotic bees have been engineered to pollinate plants, but someone may be using them for nefarious purposes. There is a contest on the internet that asks people who they want killed, usually despicable people, internet trolls, horrible politicians, and the person behind it carries it out. Kelly MacDonald (No Country For Old Men) plays the investigator trying to figure out who is behind it.

Brooker approaches some similar themes here, and some of the episodes lag in parts, but it is another solid season for the Netflix series. He really mines what technology is capable of (though some are a bit far fetched for entertainment purposes), but also how the worst people can get a hold of it. Sometimes, those are people in power, and society can quickly go to crap when that is happening. Black Mirror is essentially The Twilight Zone, which I am not sure it can reach the classic rank of that show, it definitely continues to be a worthy extension of it.

All three seasons of Black Mirror are now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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