Review: ‘MAKE PEOPLE BETTER’ pits science against ethics in Cody Sheehy’s new docu-thriller. It’s one hell of a conversation starter.


A Film by Cody Sheehy

Scientists, tech journalists, ethicists, and filmmaker Cody Sheehy navigate the genome technology space of genetic tailoring. In 2018, world-renowned Chinese geneticist He “JK” Jiankui ignited a controversial firestorm when his edited embryos produced twin girls without the public support of the scientific community. MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is the story of the martyr for the scientists who thought this was a great idea until the negative PR did not serve them.

Understanding the global uproar the Covid 19 vaccine caused, the idea of an “embryonic vaccine” might cause mass hysteria. But what if we would prevent the existence of disease before birth? With scientific timelines displaying those who laid the framework of genetic modification, playing God is slowly becoming a reality.

“Ryan” takes an emotionally invested approach as JK’s publicist. He speaks in disguise, understanding the sensitive nature of everything he is about to reveal. Since Ryan has a sister with a painful genetic disease, his interest lies in protecting the children and JK’s bold innovation. Politics, science, government regulations, and public opinion clash as JK’s work is exposed before publication. The Chinese government rescinds its promise of protection.

The title of the film speaks volumes. “Make People Better” has innumerable interpretations. If we can stop disease, isn’t that what we want? On the other hand, choosing the attributes of a child, blue eyes and blonde hair, feels like a slippery slope on numerous levels. But, MAKE PEOPLE BETTER does an excellent job of putting scientific advances into perspective. Though instantly, the notion of socioeconomic comes to mind. What makes any of this technology available to those whose communities already struggle to receive rudimentary medical care? Weighing the positives and negatives will be an ever-evolving discussion. MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is a stunning continuation of a complex conversation. Ethical or not, it will not stop.


MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is available on TVOD Now!

In 2018, the Chinese scientist Dr. He Jiankui crossed a Rubicon in human evolution by altering the genetic structure of embryos to produce the world’s first genome-edited babies. This controversial experiment, supported by China’s government and top U.S. scientists, led to an
international uproar and swift moves by Chinese authorities to disappear not just Dr. He, but the twin girls whose genes he had edited. The documentary thriller MAKE PEOPLE BETTER reveals the unknown story behind this historic scientific event from the perspectives of those who were there including a whistleblower’s testimony, never-before-seen interviews with He Jiankui, and the depiction of a world being awakened to a future where rival governments and corporations compete to make designer babies the new normal.

Directed By: Cody Sheehy

Produced By: Cody Sheehy, Samira Kiani, Mark Monroe


About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

Leave a Reply