REVIEW

REVIEW: Utopia provides chilling parallel to coronavirus era

IN DEEP: Utopia follows a group of obsessed comic fans who uncover a plot to spread a killer flu.
IN DEEP: Utopia follows a group of obsessed comic fans who uncover a plot to spread a killer flu.

PERHAPS the only thing that's spread faster across the globe than the coronavirus this year has been the rise of conspiracy theories revolving the pandemic and international politics.

Whether it's the caustic effect of Trump on left and right-wing politics, China's continual rise in global influence, the growth of 5G, or the fact that millions of people are spending an exponential amount of time online - social media has become fertile ground for outlandish theories.

The rise of QAnon has even seen usually level-minded people sucked into a far-fetched conspiracy that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are engaged in child trafficking. It's crazy stuff.

Utopia also doesn't mind following the Game Of Thrones road of unpredictably, by killing off seemingly major characters.

So in our current climate it would appear that Utopia is either the year's most fortuitously-timed TV series, or perhaps, the worst.

Utopia is essentially the story of when an apocalyptic theory hidden in a graphic comic book about a deadly laboratory-made flu becomes reality.

The latest show is a US remake of the acclaimed 2013-14 British series. It was written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and was initially promised to be "less violent" than the original.

Having never seen the British Utopia, it was must be a grisly ride because this remake doesn't shy away from the violence.

REMAKE: Amazon's version deviates slightly from the British original.

REMAKE: Amazon's version deviates slightly from the British original.

The first episode alone sees more than 20 people systemically shot in the head or given lethal injections. By episode two we've moved onto the use of poisonous gas and eye ball removal as a form of interrogation.

Utopia also doesn't mind following the Game Of Thrones road of unpredictably, by killing off seemingly major characters.

The story begins when a young couple discover the draft to the comic Utopia, the unpublished sequel to the cult classic Dystopia, among items in a deceased estate. The couple decide to sell the draft at a comic convention through a silent auction.

This brings together in real life four obsessed Dystopia fans who have become firm online friends as they've debated its hidden conspiracies.

ANTAGONIST: John Cusack plays Dr Kevin Christie.

ANTAGONIST: John Cusack plays Dr Kevin Christie.

The comic geeks are gazumped by a corporate buyer that kick starts a murder spree where everyone who knows of Utopia is suddenly being hunted by a psychotic duo.

The leader of the assassins, Arby, is a disconnected killer, who uses his suburban appearance to lure his prey. Arby's constant eating of raisins and use of an asthma inhaler following a murder make the acts of violence strangely more chilling.

Meanwhile, a deadly virus has broken out among children who've eaten a new laboratory-made meat, designed by a pharmaceutical company headed by Dr. Kevin Christie, played by John Cusack.

Dr Christie is an unsettling cross between Bill Gates and Jim Jones. By day the doctor is authorising the murder of innocent children and by night he's cooking for his family and asking his adopted children "what did you do today to earn your place in this crowded world?"

Utopia would benefit from greater character development. Often the violence and the tangled web of conspiracies overwhelm the plot that rollicks along at a lightning pace.

But one thing you can't accuse Utopia of not being is timely.

UTOPIA

Streaming on Amazon Prime

This story Utopia taps into age of conspiracy first appeared on Newcastle Herald.