Love, death and AI: Star-studded cast talks to lost loved ones in new film 'Wonderland'

Actor Tang Wei who plays Baili of upcoming film ″Wonderland″ [ACEMAKER MOVIEWORKS]

Losing a loved one or being unable to interact with a loved one due to a serious ailment can be a helpless situation. As fate would have it, this is the situation for some people. However, with the ever-advancing, high-tech era of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, people may be able to reconnect with the family and friends who left their side too soon — a situation that is realized in the upcoming film "Wonderland."

In the film, an AI service called Wonderland allows people to reconnect with those who died or fell victim to severe illness. The film's director Kim Tae-yong says the technology featured in the film is far from outrageous and signals something that's not too far away.

“I wondered where our hearts will lead to [when experiencing a service like Wonderland],” director Kim said of the upcoming film “Wonderland” during an interview on Monday with a group of local reporters in central Seoul.

The upcoming sci-fi fantasy film “Wonderland” takes place in a world where a technologically advanced AI video call service exists. Through the service, people can reconnect with the loved ones who passed away, or those who are too sick to interact, via video calls, which "reincarnate" the person they miss.

"Wonderland" features a star-studded cast, including Kim's wife, actor Tang Wei, Suzy, Park Bo-gum, Jung Yu-mi and Choi Woo-shik.

Director Kim Tae-yong of upcoming film ″Wonderland″ [ACEMAKER MOVIEWORKS]

The film’s director Kim as well as actor Tang, who plays Baili, separately sat down with the press ahead of the film’s premiere on Wednesday. Kim explains that the film is about more than just technology and that it is about “human relationships.”

“The story is about how the prevalent AI technology changes the relationships between people,” Kim said.

“I wanted the audience to think about how our human relationships will be formed after watching the film,” Kim added. “Our relationships are formed in various ways, and they also expand in unfamiliar directions, in terms of family and friends. I wanted the audience to question themselves on what they should do [when encountering such situations].”

The film seemed to have affected actor Tang as well, making her rethink her own personal relationships.

“There’s a scene showing Baili’s mother after she hangs up with Baili, where she seems very lonely,” Tang said. “After watching that scene, I thought that my actual mother could also be like that. So, I’m doing my best to spend as much time as I can with my mother and daughter.”

In the film, there are various narratives portrayed by the different characters. Each character, such as Tang's Baili, Suzy's Jung-in and Jung's Hae-ri, has their own storyline. The director was worried that the film's many narratives may confuse some audiences.

A still from film ″Wonderland″ [ACEMAKER MOVIEWORKS]
A still from film ″Wonderland″ [ACEMAKER MOVIEWORKS]

“I wanted to show different cases of people under such circumstances. I was deeply concerned about this during the early production of the film, wondering if it was the right choice,” Kim said. “But the reason that I chose to showcase various narratives was because I didn’t want the film to focus on a single subject. So, I decided to present the different cases, showing each character's situation and emotions."

There were a lot of hardships during the production of the film, as production took four years before the film's release to the public, according to the director.

“The idea for the film started in 2016 with the question, ‘Will people become happy when they are able to meet the ones they've lost?’” Kim said. “After that, it took some years to develop the story. The shooting environment was not easy, as it was shot during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also there are so many scenes that needed computer-generated [CG] effects.”

“The film is almost 100 percent CG,” the director added.

Tang also mentioned the CG effects. She said that when she was shooting, there was nothing on set, so she had to use her imagination while acting.

Since it's a sci-fi film, some may think that the film is filled with science and technology concepts that would make it difficult to understand. But Kim pointed out that his film is not that difficult to understand at all.

“Though it constantly talks about AI and my thoughts about it, it is just a story about human relationships.”

“So, I just hope that the audience can enjoy the film,” Kim added.