The upcoming Equals is but the latest addition to the growing stack of science-fiction films - most of them of the young adult genre variety, including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and so forth - released in recent memory that explore a basic human love story against the backdrop of a futuristic dystopian setting. The X-Men franchise's Nicholas Hoult and Twilight's Kristen Stewart star in Equals as Nia and Silas, two members of a society where emotions and personal expression have been all but eradicated. Of course, one thing leads to another and soon enough the pair find themselves drawn to one another, even as it places them in danger of being punished (or worse) by those who rule their restrictive world.
Equals doesn't have an official theatrical release date in the U.S. yet (at the time of writing this), but it made the rounds on the film festival circuit back in 2015 - and its studio backer, A24, has now dropped an official teaser trailer for the film online. You can check out the video, above.
A24 has in recent years become the go-to distributor for not only indie sci-fi films of the more cerebral and "arthouse" variety (see The Rover, Under the Skin, Ex Machina, and so on), but also indie cinema in general (see Spring Breakers, Room, etc.) - making it the logical place for a movie like Equals to set up camp. The film reads as being all the more intriguing an addition to its genre based solely on the people involved with making it behind the camera; including, director Drake Doremus and screenwriter Nathan Parker, who previously worked on the critically acclaimed romance film Like Crazy and the sci-fi movie Moon (also a critical darling), respectively. That being said: if the footage in the Equals teaser trailer comes off as rather derivative of dystopian sci-fi films past to you (as does the movie's premise and setup), you're not the only one.
Equals screened for attendees at the Venice Film Festival back in 2015 - and while early reviews for the film are only lukewarm on the whole, they also indicate the film is a far less noteworthy addition to the sci-fi genre than other titles released under A24's banner of late. For more, check out the following review excerpts (and click the respective links for the full critiques):
Variety - Peter Dubrage
Younger-skewing than Doremus’ two first films, “Like Crazy” and “Breathe In,” this simplistic and over-obvious allegory of love — from the emotion’s hesitant origins to its potentially tragic fizzle — should resonate most with the arthouse-going segment of the “Twilight” fanbase, making this Stewart’s most commercial pic since wrapping that series. And yes, there is a certain amount of overlap between the two.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde
[“Equals" is] a dystopian sci-fi saga that feels cobbled together from George Orwell, “THX-1138,” “The Giver,” perfume commercials and the Apple Store. Heck, before this thing’s over, [screenwriter Nathan] Parker even steals one of Shakespeare’s better-known end-of-Act-II plot twists; you almost expect the final line to be “Nobody’s perfect” or “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”
THR - David Rooney
[Equals riffs] explicitly on Romeo and Juliet with a sci-fi romance set in an emotionally sterile future in which love, empathy, loyalty and every other intense human feeling except suspicion has been processed out of existence. For high-concept melodrama that's low on complexity, this very solemn film takes itself way too seriously. But it's not entirely without interest, thanks to sleek visuals and decent chemistry between alluring leads Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart.
Nevertheless, Equals could ultimately prove to be another notable addition to Stewart's growing body of indie film work - and another interesting love story on her resume, next to films like Adventureland and American Ultra. Stewart, when not playing Bella Swan, has actually spent much of her adult acting career working on the indie film circuit - having played roles in such movies as Into the Wild, Welcome to the Rileys, and The Runaways back during her Twilight days (followed by her turn in big budgeted fairy tale re-telling Snow White and the Huntsman), before she moved onto projects like Camp X-Ray, Still Alice, and Clouds of Sils Maria.
Hoult has appeared in more mainstream offerings than Stewart by comparison - including, Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, among other examples. Still, it remains to be seen where he goes next career-wise - after he reprises his role as Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: Apocalypse later this year, that is. Who knows, perhaps Equals will end up marking the beginning of a change of pace for Hoult, where it concerns the type of projects he works on in the foreseeable future.
Equals does not have an official U.S. theatrical release date yet, but is expected to arrive later in 2016.