Thanks to Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) and Amazon Prime Video, the universe of the “Utopia” series is back on small screens. But what is the American remake of the English nugget worth, available since October 30 in France?
WHAT DOES IT TALK ABOUT ?
Ever since an original copy of an enigmatic comic book fell into their hands, fans have realized that the conspiracy theories hinted at in the comic are real. Consequently hunted down relentlessly by a mysterious organization, these young people, who did not know each other until then, will have to stick together to survive and use the data in their possession wisely … To save humanity?
“Utopia”, created by Gillian Flynn – Available on Amazon Prime Video from October 30 – Episodes viewed: 4 of 8
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE ?
WHO IS IT WITH?
Many faces known for this remake of the English series of the same name, starting with that of Sasha Lane, revealed by American Honey and seen recently in the reboot of Hellboy, who here plays the mysterious Jessica Hyde. At his side, in the camp of the good guys, we find Dan Byrd (the son of Courteney Cox in Cougar Town), Ashleigh LaThrop (The 100, The Handmaid’s Tale) or even Desmin Borges (You’re the Worst) in the skin of the conspiratorialist Wilson Wilson. Without forgetting Jessica Rothe, star of the Happy Birthdead saga, who lends her features to a new character.
In front of them, Rainn Wilson is a little calmer than the Dwright Schrute he played in The Office to lend his features to the scientist Michael Stearns, Christopher Denham (Billions) plays a killer to say the least and the ex-Mystery Man of Gotham, Cory Michael Smith, revolves around a controversial figure in the bio-food industry: Kevin Christie, played by John Cusack. So expect to meet some familiar faces throughout the eight episodes that this season 1 has.
WELL WORTH A LOOK ?
If you are one of the series fans who had discovered Utopia, the English nugget of Dennis Kelly when it was broadcast across the Channel in 2013 (or when it was visible on Netflix then myCANAL in France), the mere mention of his name risks remind you of a bad memory: that of this cancellation at the end of season 2, for lack of satisfactory audiences, without the series knowing a real end. Available on Amazon Prime Video in France since October 30, this new version may be able to heal this wound. But in the long term, because it is not a sequel but a remake, headed by Gillian Flynn, author of the novels that gave rise to Sharp Objects and feature films such as Dark Places and – above all – Gone Girl. David Fincher was also to direct this series, with Rooney Mara in the lead role, when the project was intended for HBO, but it fell through.
Not for long then, since here is this prophetic comic book story that smells of conspiracy and mass manipulation, which paradoxically makes the remake more relevant than its model, in this period of pandemic. Because the plot revolves around a legendary comic book that predicted some upcoming health disasters (including the Zika and Ebola viruses), and its sequel that everyone tears off when it turns out that it exists , since it perhaps contains the future of the planet in its pages. Until other series no longer tackle it head-on, it is difficult to do more 2020 than this one, which has become the standard bearer of anti-masks, convinced that Covid-19 is only an invention of governments to better control us, in the United States. Without having sought it, since the episodes were shot long before, this American Utopia thus loses its entertaining side, and may put off the neophytes who will discover the universe imagined by Dennis Kelly in the current context.
Especially since the staging, although neat, is a little more raw and realistic than that of his model, who played on millimeter framing, effects of symmetry and vibrant colors to accentuate his quirky side. This new version is thus more American in its form, because it is less stylized, which has the particular effect of making its few outbursts of violence more brutal, even if the remake lifts the foot compared to its predecessor in this area (the famous sequence spoon is still present). Fans could also have a little trouble entering the first two episodes because it is very difficult not to play the game of comparisons. Know that the show is generally faithful to the one broadcast on Channel 4 between 2013 and 2014, but that it manages to take some liberties with small touches. Sometimes on details, like the discovery of the comic book that starts the story, or the fact that it is in a convention that the heroes meet. Including an amazing newcomer, Samantha, played by Jessica Rothe.
But whether it’s the new version or the original, the two Utopias have one big strength in common: the character of Jessica Hyde. Here interpreted by Sasha Lane (revealed in Cannes thanks to American Honey), the young woman is here more violent and ambiguous, like the current world once again, but it is always her who sets the tempo of this quintessential adventure. ‘she raises from her first appearance and makes us want to follow her in her fight and her investigation of the mysterious Mr. Rabbit mentioned in the comic book after everyone runs (including unscrupulous killers) as well as the actions of the powerful Kevin Christie (John Cusack), through whom the series focuses in particular on industrial lobbies.
While it is more likely to captivate those who will set foot in the universe for the first time than those who already know it, this remake is worth a look and is not a shameful copy, far. of the. The original is certainly more wacky, offbeat and astonishing, and the echoes of this version with the news remind us above all how far the work of Dennis Kelly and his writers was visionary. But, not content to address some of her favorite themes such as appearances and the weight of the past, Gillian Flynn is doing quite well with her partners. Her series is dark, engaging and rhythmic, although a little far-fetched at times, and can appeal to everyone as long as it is disconnected from the context in which it comes out. And who knows if she will not succeed in giving fans what they have dreamed of for six years: a season 3 and an ending.