IO is definitely not the next Bird Box


After popping a fresh bag of popcorn and settling into my bed on the much-needed snow day, I began to scroll through the Netflix new releases. Eventually, I came across the trailer to the movie IO, and I immediately became interested in the end-of-the-world basis of the movie, reminding me of Bird Box, which I couldn’t stop watching.

Now, I’m not a person that commonly finds sci-fi drama movies enthralling, but after my recent encounter with Bird Box, as I said before, I decided to give another post-apocalyptic drama a chance.

The film is built off of the idea of an unsettling future for Earth and humanity, where humans eventually destroyed the Earth to a point of it being toxic, disabling humans from surviving considering there are only a few spots where they can openly breathe in the oxygen in the atmosphere. The majority of humanity was forced to flee Earth because of the conditions and reestablish a home on one of Jupiter’s moons, IO, hence the name of the movie. Yet, few people still live on Earth, specifically Sam Walden (Margaret Qualley) and Micah (Anthony Mackie), and those two are the main focus of the movie.

The movie starts off with a focus on only Sam, who is a scientist trying to find a way to save the dying Earth and continue her father’s studies. She wants to prove that the earth is not dying but is simply being reborn. Eventually, the other main and basically only other character, Micah, falls into the movie, literally. He is in search for information about the research Dr. Walden has been working on. Yet, things take a turn when an announcement reveals that the last ship to IO, ever, will be taking off in a few days. Sam and Micah are forced to decide if it’s time to leave earth or if the earth is worth staying on and trying to save.

The plot of the movie was interesting and could’ve built a very good movie, yet I found myself very disappointed in the way it was carried out.

The plot of the movie was interesting and could’ve built a very good movie, yet I found myself very disappointed in the way it was carried out. Rather than filling the movie with gripping, edge-of-your-seat scenes, which it very well could’ve, the movie moved on slow-paced scenes with seemingly pointless detail. Rather than seeing and feeling two people that have to make a life-changing choice, I saw two people who simply made it through each day with maybe a little exciting scene here or there. The plot could’ve led to a much more interesting movie, yet it didn’t.

Another important aspect of a good movie that IO lacked was emotion. The two characters carried with them some traumatic life experiences, yet when they were made apparent, the scene was never elaborate enough to develop on the emotion or create any audience connections. The emotion could’ve been so much deeper; but instead, the pain each character had inside of them was talked about maybe once or twice, and there was no real emotion found when they exposed their pain. The semi-emotional scenes came and went, with the rest of the plot simply carrying on as if nothing had happened. 

Because the movie was so slow-paced and emotionally lacking, it was hard for me to evaluate the characters’ portrayals. I couldn’t really figure out what each character was supposed to be portraying, and I never felt a connection with either of the main characters. In the end, however, I’d consider that a director flaw, not an actor flaw.

Qualley did a satisfactory job in holding the seriousness of her character. She had a tough task of displaying her character through few words, forcing her to use her expressions and actions. I never saw an actor from her performances; I always saw just the character. While that was a good thing though, it also meant that the character was even less relatable. Regardless, she still portrayed an interesting role. 

The other lead, Mackie, did an excellent job at becoming his character, and he was able to express more emotion than I found Qualley expressing in Sam. His character held a very hard, serious personality yet also had a little soft side, and in the rare occasions where I could feel emotion, it was coming from him.

This movie proved a point that even if you do have the award-winning plot, it will never be good unless the whole movie can build it up. IO lacked buildup and ruined what could’ve been a really good movie. While it had its good scenes, the hour and thirty-six minutes were too full of the bland, empty scenes to be worth watching.

If you’re looking for another Bird Box, IO is not the movie to do justice.