Utopia (Amazon Prime US Remake.)Review

Dennis Kelly’s original Channel 4 series Utopia is one of those cancelled long before its time-series you hear a lot about in genre and geek-centric TV. It is one that’s always been on this authors watch list but he’s never got around to despite being only 12 episodes long. When th\e US remake popped up on Amazon Prime it was worth having a look at. It has solid pedigree behind it with Gone Girls Gillian Flynn handling the American adaptation and a solid cast including John Cusack, Rainn Wilson and Sasha Lane. From the perspective of someone unfamiliar with the original article how was the season.
These eight episodes full very nicely into the main bracket of Amazon shows that are not The Boys or Mrs Maisel. It’s perfectly fine with some merits but offers nothing stand out to recommend it one way or the other. Based on the remake alone it’s hard to imagine that the narrative was what made the original series so beloved. it’s slick and engaging enough but (in a case of incredibly unfortunate timing)it offers nothing not seen in any variety of reel world pandemic narratives. It’s slickly directed with a cinematic eye and solidly paced so it never becomes a slog. That said Flynn and her team struggle with giving the narrative or stylistic choices any stand out qualities beyond what is typically seen in a modestly prestigious streaming drama. One of the major cards the season has to play is a substantial amount of attempted shock value with outbursts of violence and gore. Mileage may vary for individual viewers but having seen a huge number of streaming shows and films nothing here we will be in any way challenging for people who watch horror /exploitation films regularly.
The performances are fine but as with the narrative, not enough time is spent with individual strands to make the overall tapestry engaging. This becomes especially noticeable when the season focuses on the interpersonal drama over narrative rather than focusing on how this could propel the story forward. It prevents the season from levelling up beyond a watchable distraction in an age of so much content released to streaming every week.
From the perspective of someone who has never seen the original (but is aware how loved it is among certain sectors of the cult TV audience)Amazons, Utopia remake is watchable enough without suggesting what makes the original memorable. It’s solidly performed and paced decently enough for the runtime but there’s nothing here to explicitly recommend either way. Given the unfortunate timing with the season’s portrayal of a fictional pandemic although this season does end on a cliffhanger it would be surprising to see it go further. This is perfectly okay. If viewers haven’t seen it their time would probably be better spent watching the recently concluded second season of The Boys instead.

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