To save Earth or leave it: that’s the question posed in Netflix’s new science fiction film IO. The title refers to Jupiter’s moon Io, where the bulk of humanity has fled following a cataclysm that left the Earth unlivable. Now one of the people left behind must decide whether or not to abandon humanity’s home when the last train leaves the station. Check out the trailer for Netflix’s IO below:
The one thing that stands out in a major way here are the obvious parallels between the story in IO and I am Legend. Whereas Will Smith’s Robert Neville was alone, attempting to find a cure for the monsters in his world, Margaret Qualley’s character is alone, attempting to find a cure for the Earth’s sickness. This trailer does a really good job of capturing that level of loneliness and isolation, adding to the weight of the relationship that does occur.
One interesting area where this story diverges from I am Legend is that Margaret Qualley’s Sam Walden knows that there is a sanctuary out there in the solar system, and it seems like she is choosing not to go to it until Anthony Mackie‘s Micah arrives (by hot air balloon no less) and complicates matters. These two characters will clearly develop a bond and that will change the equation for Qualley’s Sam Walden.
That aspect of IO is very intriguing because if the Earth is so screwed and there are so few people left to save, and there is a clear way out, why is it even up for debate about whether or not to stay?
Whatever is at the heart of that dilemma (perhaps continuing her father’s work) isn’t entirely clear here as the trailer for IO leaves a lot of questions unanswered, like how long the Earth has been like this, how many people are still left and why Micah didn’t go straight to the ship. It was also interesting that she asked him what is was like before, indicating that perhaps she has only known a toxic Earth, meaning she may be fighting for something she’s never seen, which is kind of compelling.
Once they decide they are going to leave, the two must traverse a toxic landscape to catch the exodus ship. That aspect of this trailer is interesting because IO becomes both a survival story and a race against the clock. That’s what’s kind of cool about this film; unlike many post-apocalyptic stories, there is no enemy to fight, the threat is nature and that’s much harder to outrun.
IO also looks well shot with a bleak aesthetic that really enforces the post-apocalyptic survival vibe. If I have any criticism of the trailer, it’s that the dialogue isn’t great. It’s very expository and kind of clichéd, but being that this is a trailer meant to explain the premise to audiences, that may not be indicative of the film itself.
IO looks very much like it was influenced by and could be part of a cinematic continuity with films like Titan A.E. and Interstellar. We’ll find out whether it can stand out from other such stories in the genre and hit for the streaming service in the way Bird Box did when IO starts streaming on Netflix on January 18.