“Tell them a new world awaits us.”

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You need to watch the best post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie on Netflix ASAP

This 2019 film tackles the climate crisis with a solitary, scientific angle.

As the climate crisis worsens, movies about “planet B” are becoming more common. There’s something comforting about the idea of abandoning this failing planet and starting over somewhere else. Of course, the reality isn’t that simple. The best plan is to fix the world we’re living in now — or, at the very least, adapt to it. That’s what this 2019 film, now streaming on Netflix seeks to explore; it does so with striking minimalism and an all-star cast.

IO is a 2019 post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie directed by Jonathan Helpert, starring Maid breakout Margaret Qualley and Marvel Cinematic Universe darling Anthony Mackie. The film follows Qualley’s Sam, a young woman surviving in a pocket of breathable atmosphere in a post-apocalyptic Earth. Most people have evacuated the planet in favor of Jupiter’s moon, which lends the film its title.

Sam’s quiet life of exploration, research, and beekeeping is interrupted when she’s paid a visit from a fellow scientist, who’s seeking to make it to an evacuation point and travel to Io before Earth is abandoned for good. But Sam has not been sufficiently convinced the future of the human race lies off-Earth.

Post-climate-apocalypse movies are a dime a dozen, but IO has something those movies lack entirely: optimism. Yes, most of the Earth’s population has abandoned the planet, but maybe the planet never intended for a population expanding as rapidly as that of humanity to live on it indefinitely. Sam refers to the crisis as “just our planet desperately trying to survive by kicking us out.”

But Sam is not just a doomsday survivalist refusing to budge from her home. She’s got a plan to survive in the new world, one that involves insects, lamps, and (in a roundabout way) her new visitor. Her lonely life is only aggravated by a long-distance relationship unlike any other: he’s on Io, she’s on Earth.

Though the production values aren’t the highest, the film invests in a high-quality cast, and that’s where the emotion of the piece really comes through. Qualley is adequately antisocial and curious as Sam, and Mackie brings a Falcon-minted skepticism to his role, bouncing off her optimism.

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Margaret Qualley as Sam and Anthony Mackie as Micah in IO.


This movie isn’t a preachy morality tale that tells us to focus on recycling or carbon neutrality. It’s a tale of hope: if our world outgrows us, we can grow and catch up with it, even if doing so means changing our lifestyle. IO treats the climate crisis not as a crisis, but as an evolution. In the same way, the human race must evolve to embrace the new day, starting with Sam.

If you’re passionate about the environment and looking for a glimmer of hope, or just hoping for a new take on an old and tired genre, look no further than this hidden gem.

IO is now streaming on Netflix.

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