Last month at the virtual San Diego Comic Con, Amazon dropped the first teaser for: Utopiaa reboot (modified by gone girl and sharp objects author Gillian Flynn) of the controversial British black comedy/conspiracy thriller 2013-2014. Now the streaming platform has released the official full trailer and the series looks like it’s going to be a pretty wild ride.
As we previously reported, the series is about online fans of a dystopian graphic novel called Utopia who seems to have the power to predict the future in the real world. Fans are obsessed with tracking down the sequel (which supposedly also predicts future world events). This makes them the target of a secret organization called The Network.
The UK version received critical acclaim for its originality and visual style, offset by strong reservations about the extreme violence, which many saw as needlessly unnecessary. (The most famous scene involved a torturer using a spoon to gouge a victim’s eye). It remains to be seen if Amazon’s Utopia will match the same magnitude of violence, although Flynn recently told Deadline Hollywood it wouldn’t be as prominent.
“I’m more ‘less is more’ when it comes to violence,” Flynn said. “I’m the person who loves that moment in rosemary baby where we only see part of the conversation while the whole audience tries to look around the corner to see what’s happening, or of course jaws† I am a big proponent of that. I don’t want it for a cartoon effect or for the shock value. I think we as an audience are largely past that as pure shock value. I want to use force when it is effective and appropriate.”
And unlike the sleek, Britpop-influenced tone of the British original, Flynn found inspiration for her take on the series in 1970s conspiracy thrillers like The parallax view and Marathon Man† “In fact, when I was pitching this, I mentioned it The Goonies meets Marathon Manshe said. “I took this idea of a group of riotous, unlikely heroes getting caught up in this incredibly dark conspiracy.”
According to the official premise: “If the conspiracy in the elusive comic” Utopia is real, a group of young fans come together to embark on a twisted, high-stakes adventure to use what they discover to save themselves, each other, and ultimately humanity.” Ian (Dan Byrd, Easy A), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop, The Handmaid’s Tale), Samantha (Jessica Rothe, Happy Day of the Dead), Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges, you are the worst) and Grant (Javon “Wanna” Walton, Euphoria) are the conspirators uberfans, aiming to expose the hidden meanings they believe are hidden in the pages of Utopia† When the dangers depicted in the comics begin to manifest in the real world, they decide to take action.
The cast also includes John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank) as dr. Kevin Christie, Rainn Wilson (The office) as Michael Stearns and Sasha Lane (American honey2019’s hellboy) as Jessica Hyde, the comic’s famous lead character, who leads our ragtag group on their quest to save the world. But she also has a few secrets to herself. The series also stars Farrah Mackenzie (Logan Lucky) as Alice, Christopher Denham (Manhattan) as Arby and Cory Michael Smith (Gotham) as Thomas Christie.
Fittingly enough, the trailer opens at a comic book convention as our protagonists gather to revel in their mutual love for the Utopia comics. Samantha gets excited by several fans about how many of the events in the comics have come true – terrible viruses like Ebola and Zika, for example. They are not impressed. “You’re one of those, aren’t you?” sneezes a cynic. “‘It must all mean something!'” But amid the normal goings-on at the convention, mysterious figures lurk – and watch.
Things get real with the appearance of Jessica Hyde. “If you want to stay alive, come with me,” she says. “They’ve killed every person they’ve seen” Utopia.” Apparently Samantha was right: everything in Utopia is real. As REM’s “The End of the World As We Know It” plays in the background, we see a quarantine camp and get our first glimpse of Stearns, the foremost expert on a new strain of the flu virus; the latest outbreak has now been declared a national pandemic.
Samantha and her friends recall that in the comics, the pandemic leads to “our downfall.” So, of course, they join Stearns, who assures them, “We can fight it. We’d just go into the belly of the beast and almost beg to be slaughtered.”
‘Wait, what? That’s extreme,” Ian says. But it’s probably not an exaggeration, as Wilson Wilson’s eyepatch is sporty—a hint that the spoon-blind scenario likely survived its transition to American TV. The rest of the trailer consists of flashes of exploding cars, public protests, an ominously grinning Cusack, and the kids trying to break into a quarantine zone while wearing colorful makeshift hazmat gear.
“How much evil must you do to do good?” asks Jessica, implying that the target will justify any drastic measures they take.
To which a shocked Stearns replies, “None! No harm!” We’ll have to see if his conscience holds sway.
Utopia will premiere on Amazon Prime on September 25, 2020.
List image by YouTube/Amazon Prime