2016 is focusing it’s theatrical might on further litters of super hero movies, alien invasion flicks, and solidly post-apocalyptic fare. Despite this sadly misguided focus, there are a few movies and shows that can bear the cyberpunk cross through the desolate year of 2016.
Dimension W (Anime Series)
Premiere: January 10th, 2016
Premise: Dimension W takes place in a world where energy is drawn from an alternative “W” dimension, and has essentially created an unlimited source of energy. This world is full of unapproved, illegal “coils,” which are the device used to harness energy from dimension W. Androids, cyborgs, and other high tech devices run rampant in the world, lending much of the cyberpunk feel to the story, yet the main character, Kyomu, uses low tech weaponry and human skill as to not be limited by access to energy. There are 12 episodes slated for the first season.
Second Chance (TV Series)
Premiere: January 13th, 2016
Premise: Second Chance gains its name from the idea of bringing someone back to life, and rejuvenating their body. Second Chance feels like classic FOX programming with a beautiful high tech near future reminiscent of the failed Almost Human and Minority Report of the recent past. The themes of the story seem to be low, and there is basically no punk, but the shows visuals and artificial intelligence in a near future setting has earned it a place on this list. It is currently slated to run 13 episodes.
Colony (TV Series)
Premiere: January 14th, 2016
Premise: Colony is set in the near future where a fascist alien species has occupied Earth. Despite alien oppressors taking the place of human or machine oppressors the show has heavy low life elements paired with high tech elements. The show is also airing on USA, which recently brought us Mr. Robot, which brings hope that the show will be dark, relevant, and punk. We’ll have to see where the show goes to see if it earns any cyberpunk cred.
Premiere: January 22nd, 2016
Premise: In Synchronicity we see the invention of time travel alongside a noiresque romance story. What intrigues most about this movie though is the visuals and soundtrack which bring Blade Runner flooding back into the mind. The movie’s aesthetic is striking and the story seems interesting. It will be nice to have another science fiction noir film.
12 Monkeys (TV Series)
Premiere: April 2016
Premise: Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys film is largely considered cyberpunk because of the grim cyberpunk future from whence James Cole comes. The SyFy series has shifted that cyberpunk world into something more akin to post-apocalyptic world. The back drop of vast conspiracy, corporate mismanagement, and runaway science are the themes that manage to hold the show in the cyberpunk realm. SyFy has commissioned 13 episodes for the second season of 12 Monkeys.
Orphan Black (TV Series)
Premiere: April 2016
Premise: Orphan Black returns on BBC America for its fourth season. This show has been fantastic about marrying punk to high tech from the very first season. Transhumanism, religious luddites, clones, mega-corporations, conspiracies, and more make Orphan Black one of the most relevant science fiction shows on television for people interested in transhuman ideas. The acting of Tatiana Maslany deserves awards as she portrays a number of clones, each with a distinct personality. To make the show even more relevant to current events, it also has some of the best depictions of the LGBT community that I have seen on television. Season 4 will contain 10 episodes.
Premiere: May 13th, 2016 (Limited Theater Release)
Premise: High-Rise is based on the novel by the same name by J.G. Ballard. Ballard is considered a proto-cyberpunk writer who inspired the writings of the original cyberpunk writers such as William Gibson. The movie is about the break down of society in a super-structure high-rise skyscraper with some emphasis on class warfare.
Assassin’s Creed (Movie)
Premiere: December 21st, 2016
Premise: I have made a case for the cyberpunk elements of the Assassin’s Creed franchise in the past. Ubisoft has confirmed that the film will include elements of the modern day, the Animus, and Abstergo. The modern day elements of the franchise have always been the most cyberpunk part of the story, and although we know from the picture below that the film is also going to have period aspects, this film is expected to have some cyberpunk elements. Forthcoming trailers should show more of this.
Person of Interest (TV Series)
Premiere: Spring 2016
Premise: Person of Interest is about a group of vigilantes and hackers using an artificially intelligent machine to prevent crimes, but then quickly becomes a story about the abuses of surveillance technology in modern society, and war between AIs. The fifth season is likely to be the last of this seriously under-appreciated show. There will be 13 episodes in Season 5.
Westworld (TV Series)
Premise: Westworld is a resort populated by artificially intelligent robots, who are unaware that they live within a fantasy world. In the 1973 movie, which the HBO series is based on, the resorts inhabitants go insane and start killing the human visitors. With Jonathan Nolan, who wrote Memento, The Dark Knight, and Person of Interest, we can expect a dark, relevant story about artificial intelligence. The first season is slated for 10 episodes.
Mr. Robot (TV Series)
Premise: Mr. Robot has managed to capture the zeitgeist of our times and created one of the most accurate and compelling cyberpunk stories of the modern era. The main character, Elliot, feels like Case from the cyberpunk bible, Neuromancer. The story about F-Society, an Anonymous style hacker organization, taking down the established structures of our world that trap us while, Elliot attempts to escape from the trap of his own mind, is an amazing story and the second season, which will run 10 episodes, is likely to push this envelope further.
The Man in the High Castle (TV Series)
Premise: The Man in the High Castle, from another proto-cyberpunk author Phillip K. Dick, looks at a world in which the Allies lost World War II to the Axis, and the US has been divided between Japan and Nazi Germany. The story follows a number of characters associated with resistance against this new world order, and has heavy themes about the transformative power of media. Amazon has ordered a second season, but so far we don’t have an official count on the number of episodes, although it will likely be 10 like the first season.
2016 is looking pretty bleak for our video fix of cyberpunk, if there is anything we missed please point it out in the comments below and we will be sure to add it to the list.