Hannah Hanlon, Staff Contributor
My expectation of the Netflix Original film, “Io,” was that this would be an adventurous film about survivors on Earth trying to colonize on one of Jupiter’s moons, Io.
I was curious to see how the filmmakers would portray what life on another moon might be like. Instead, I was shown what life on Earth is like after most people on Earth have already left on multiple spaceship launches as part of what is called “Project Exodus.”
The first twenty-five minutes of the film reminded me a bit of the Pixar film, “Wall-e,” except instead of a lone, adorable robot collecting garbage on Earth, there is a lone young female scientist named Sam (Margaret Qualley).
We see her collecting specimens of organisms that are still alive and measuring atmospheric toxicity.
We see her traveling from an area of high toxicity called the Zone in a formerly metropolitan area – presumed to be New York City – to a solitary area that is her lab and home. It is assumed that she lives alone. (This important plot point is explored later in the film).
Continuing forward, a mysterious man named Micah, portrayed by Anthony Mackie, arrives in a helium balloon, looking for Dr. Henry Walden. We later learn Dr. Walden is the father of Sam, who is also revealed to be his research assistant.
Sam is determined to stay and prove that life on Earth can still have a future. But with the last shuttle launch scheduled to leave Earth with survivors going to Io, Micah refuses to leave her behind. Sam struggles with her desire to stay on Earth or let it go and take her last opportunity to explore a new world on Io.
There is also the conflict of letting go of a relationship she is in with an engineer currently living on Io named Elon, who has opportunities of his own to explore new worlds, and the growing bond she is experiencing with Micah.
The pacing of the film is a bit slow – the first 25 minutes aremainly spent watching Sam spending time between her greenhouse and her lab – but there are some nice visuals, particularly of the landscape.
Some of the dialogue feels a little stilted, but both actors carry their own decently enough.
There are certain moments that are built up to have plot significance, but ultimately there is no pay off. For instance, there is a key scene where a “virgin queen bee” is found in the bee colony that Sam has been tending to that died off.
It is not expected that this film will be one of Netflix’s big hits.If you are okay with watching a sweet (but somewhat) lethargic dystopian romance, this might be a fun film to watch.
But if you are hoping for a fast-paced sci-fi adventure film or thriller, then “Io” might be more of an “uh-oh.”
Star rating: 3 out of 5.