A Not-so Respectful Reel Review: Io






Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston


Jonathan Helpert


Our future is not on Earth


As a young scientist scrambles to heal a dying planet, she finds a connection with a man racing to find a shuttle that will take him off of Earth, and to a space station near Io where the last of humanity gathers.


It is noteworthy that for this movie, the review will not be called a Respectful Reel Review. Clearly, it would require too much effort on my part to sublimate the disdain I have for this work. My first response is ALWAYS to WANT to love EVERY film I watch, but I watched this piece on a night that I was home alone, looking to “Netflix and Chill” with an intellectually stimulating Science Fiction movie. This was NOT it. It was a well-produced, beautiful looking piece of cinema, but it was inanely pedantic and overtly vapid. I wanted speculative, mind-expansion, and I received flash with little substance. I think you have an idea as to how this review is going to go, but I have some very real issues with the science, the storytelling, the characters, and the waste of money. However, I will argue my points rather than just trash this turd. I don’t believe in saying it’s dumb and leave it at that, but yeah, it’s dumb.

A mass exodus has occurred on the planet Earth. The atmosphere has become so toxic that the air is barely breathable, and the dirt is poisoned with minerals rich in radioactive isotopes, but people still inhabit the Earth. If there was a mass exodus, and there are sufficient shuttles to get them away, why are there still a remnant? We learn that Sam Walden (Margaret Qualley) is a scientist trying to reverse the corruption that has infected the atmosphere by curating a colony of bees to pollinate plant life in the hope that the plants will scrub the carbon dioxide dense atmosphere. Sam lives at high altitude where the oxygen is still clean enough to breathe, but still hazardous enough to warrant precautions that include keeping a fire burning to ascertain when the oxygen is gone? This is not explained. I would think that when you start huffing for air that would be a sufficient indicator that there is no longer any breathable air. Why keep a flame burning that is using up the precious resource you require?

When a massive storm sweeps through her camp and eliminates the colony of bees, along with droves of research, Sam becomes disgusted with her chances at finding a viable way to save the Earth. Micah (Anthony Mackie) arrives shortly after the storm to speak with Sam’s father (Danny Huston) Dr. Harry Walden. Micah is angry that Walden had urged the people to stay on earth, because he felt that the earth was still salvageable, which clearly it is not. Through their dialogue we find that Walden is dead and it is only Sam’s stubbornness that has kept her struggling to reverse earth’s dying gasps.

Micah convinces Sam to cease her attempts at fixing the earth and to go with him to a launch site to leave earth and go to Io. Sam messages the last vestiges of humanity with a radio announcement that she is leaving because all of her attempts to fix the planet have been unsuccessful. Then she and Micah travel to a city to get more helium so that they can better use the balloon that Micah has as transportation. During there trip, Sam chooses to make a stop at the Museum of Modern Art, so that she might one last time witness what humanity can do.

I leave the story here, although this is really almost all of it. The dialogue is trite, almost torturous. The relationship between Sam and Micah is contrived. It rings so false that even they seem put off by the sudden arc swing of their characters. The science rings false. There is very little plant life to speak of so what exactly are these bees supposed to pollinate? The story has no logical cohesion. From its initial premise, the story just doesn’t hold together, especially when it pretends to be a science fiction film that abdicates any connection to real science. It really has to be one of the worst things I’ve ever watched. I’m going to give it a .5 for pretty cinematography and 1 solitary Grey Geek because it’s hard to imagine something worse than this slog.

1 and a half Grey Geeks

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