Aside from some of its enjoyable visual storytelling, IO is a clunky mess with too much dialogue and very little character progression
In a world where all of the world’s population have left the planet to start a new colony on one of Jupiter’s moons IO, the Earth is left barren and lifeless. However, cultivating her land alone, Sam (Margaret Qualley) is determined to stay on the planet for as long as possible, alone and content. But with the final rocket launch leaving the Earth for IO just days away, Sam begins to question her choice to remain in place, made more difficult by the arrival of Micah (Anthony Mackie), a traveller seeking the final launch destination to reach IO himself.
There is no consistent issue for films opting in to similar stories as IO, but there are flawed tropes and ideas that the film manages to smother itself with. The futuristic empty Earth with a tough choice has been done before, and done well on multiple occasions, but IO seems to fair quite differently.
The lack of a plot causes an increased lull in both tension and excitement, leaving behind a character drama with a well intended journey of personal and emotional development. Despite this clearly set out intent, IO stalls from its script upwards; it is simply not good enough. Unable to hold up and support its own morals, the story becomes deflating and life-sucking; featuring tough loss and an attempt to re-find passion, both difficult themes to express through film. There is no gateway into feeling for the characters or understanding their difficulties, putting IO on the back foot from almost its first moments.
Aside from some of its enjoyable visual storytelling, IO is a clunky mess with too much dialogue and very little character progression. Both of its characters end the film as they did at the beginning, just slowly revealing their personalities to one another. This lack of change and insistence of stubborn characterisation leaves IO feeling heavy and unsatisfying.