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Io (also known as Io: Last on Earth) is a 2019 American Science Fiction Film, directed by Jonathan Helpert. It stars Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, and Danny Huston.
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Set in a future where most of the air on Earth has become toxic, the majority of survivors have fled off-world to a space station near Io, a space station orbiting the titular moon of Jupiter. The remaining survivors on Earth have fled to live at high altitudes while awaiting transport to IO. However, the evacuation is winding down, with only one shuttle launch remaining before Earth is abandoned fully by humanity.

Sam Walden (Qualley), the daughter of a famed scientist Dr. Harry Walden (Huston), is one of the few remaining survivors on Earth. She and her father live in an outpost on a high-altitude mountain overlooking an abandoned city, and are trying to determine a means by which humans and animals can adapt to Earth's hostile conditions. Sam quickly but finds her priorities confused by the appearance of Micah (Mackie), a traveller in a hot air balloon who is trying to reach her father and make it to the final shuttle launch.

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The film was released in the USA on January 18, 2019, by Netflix.

Tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Sam tries to maintain a relationship with Elon by sending emails and viewing the space station he's on using the observatory telescope. When Elon volunteers for the mission to Alpha Centauri, meaning they won't see each other for many years, she starts a relationship with Micah instead, and admits in her final letter to Elon that she lied about her father forcing her to stay on Earth.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Sam has a line of scar lumps on her midriff from where she keeps dabbing her skin with tiny doses of toxin in the hope of adapting to Earth's changed atmosphere. When Micah tries to force her to leave the planet with him on the last shuttle, she removes her gasmask to prove she has indeed adapted. Fortunately she's right and her child with Micah seems to have inherited the immunity.
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  • After the End: It's been more than a decade since Earth has become almost completely inhospitable to humans, with the lower altitudes covered in a poisonous fog. Most survivors have been able to evacuate to a space station called Io, but the remaining have been eeking out a living at high altitudes while awaiting the shuttles to escape.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: In the film, ammonia is portrayed as heavier than air (collecting at sea level, in valleys and subterranean structures), detected with purple flame and yet still, a potential source of oxygen. In real life, ammonia is lighter than air, can be detected far before the toxicity threshold by the human sense of smell, the flame would not turn purple, but would actually be yellow and ammonia contains no oxygen at all, making it completely useless as a source of oxygen.
  • Canary in a Coal Mine: Done with a cigarette lighter rather than an animal—when the flame is purple instead of yellow the air is toxic. In fact Sam's research seeks to breed animals who can survive in Earth's new conditions.
  • Cassette Craze: Sam played tapes of her father's speeches on the ham radio while he was away from the outpost, and kept doing so to maintain the illusion that he was alive.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The literal version is averted; Sam searches Micah's bag and finds a revolver, but it's never used. However the earlier scene with Sam exposing herself to the atmospheric toxins means she has adapted enough to survive.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: When Micah turns up in a balloon demanding to see Dr. Harry Walden, his daughter Sam claims that he's away for a few days gathering samples. Eventually, he becomes suspicious and forces open the door to his office, finding it covered in dust and cobwebs. She then admits her father has been dead for some time.
  • Cold Equation: Micah let his sick wife die so he would have enough rations to survive. Blaming Dr. Walden for their decision to remain on Earth he seeks him out, presumably to take revenge, but on realising only his daughter is alive decides to get her off the planet to atone.
  • Cool, Clear Water: Averted; Micah balks at drinking the cup of discolored water Sam offers him, but she explains that's only because it's been filtered through sand and charcoal to remove toxins.
  • Dead All Along: When Micah comes in search of Dr. Walden, Sam initially tells him that Walden is conducting field research and will return in a few days. Sam eventually discovers that his laboratory hasn't been used in months, and forces Sam to admit that Henry has been dead for some time.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Sam has a decontamination shower near the mountain outpost, and it's the first place she stops after she comes back from her expeditions on the toxic zones in her Hazmat Suit.
  • Dull Surprise: Sam just stands there with a blank look on her face as Micah's balloon slowly drifts over her head and lands, only responding after Micah staggers out and asks for water. She mentions afterward she thought she was dreaming.
  • Gaia's Lament: Zigzagged; Sam finds the fog-shrouded Ruins of the Modern Age quite beautiful, unlike Micah who remembers what they were like Before.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: In her Opening Monologue, Sam speculates that the sudden change in Earth's atmosphere was a Godzilla Threshold to force humanity off the planet.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: 'Mad' is a stretch, but Sam has been by herself at her outpost for months, with no one but her boyfriend Elon to talk to by email. She's definitely been alone a bit too long by the time Micah finds her. However, he isn't much better.
  • The Hermit: Sam's father in a Rule of Symbolism manner, living virtually alone on a mountain above the clouds and dispersing wisdom via his broadcasts. Micah was one of those inspired by his speeches to stay and is now The Resenter because it caused the death of his own family.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: The prologue mentioned that as the atmosphere first got bad a few scientists started building a power station to harvest energy from other planets instead, but things got so bad that power station turned into an escape colony orbiting IO, with the people there having little faith in Sam's project and looking for new planets to colonize.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: Flowering plants still exist in the Zone, enveloping the ruins. Sam is inspired to stay when she finds a veritable garden growing inside the art museum.
  • Hostile Weather: While Sam is in the Zone, a storm blows across the outpost destroying the greenhouse and beehives. Later Micah receives an automated radio call informing him that extreme weather conditions have destroyed the Exodus shuttle launch he was going to, and assigning him a launch window at another shuttle that's too far to make it on the helium he has, forcing them to enter the Zone to get more.
  • Human Notepad: Sam has tattooed herself with scientific equations; not to remember them but as a sign she doesn't know anyone who isn't a scientist or engineer.
  • I Choose to Stay: Sam ultimately decides to remain on Earth, having Acquired Poison Immunity to the toxic and leaving a hopeful message for Micah to get to the colony that the Earth will one day be habitable again.
  • Imaginary Friend: After The Reveal that Sam's father is dead we get what appears to be a flashback scene, but it turns out to be this trope, implying that Sam has maintained the illusion of her father being alive to cope with her isolation. In this case even her 'father' urges her to leave.
  • It's the Only Way: Sam changes her mind about leaving, but Micah has already stated that she's coming with him whether she wants to or not. So she just takes off her gasmask to find out whether she really has adapted to the conditions.
  • Just a Kid: Implied to be why Micah is reluctant to be seduced by Sam (though he has guilt issues as well) even though she may well be the last woman on Earth.
  • May–December Romance: Micah is about twenty years older than Sam.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Micah is amazed that Sam has fresh vegetables and honey.
  • Race Against the Clock: At the start of the movie, the final shuttle to Io is scheduled to launch in 3 days time. Micah is desperate to get to it (Sam slightly less so), but hampered by less than favorable winds, which are needed to fly his balloon. Things get more dire when they learn the launch site has been moved farther away, and they lack the helium necessary for the balloon to fly that far.
  • Minimalist Cast: The movie's cast consists of just Sam, Micah, briefly her father and (as The Voice over the radio) Elon.
  • Post Apocalyptic Gasmask: Anyone in the Zone has to carry their own oxygen. Sam has set her watch to warn her when her tank is about to run out.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Sam and her father were trying to build up an Acquired Poison Immunity to the toxins, and Sam has numerous scar lumps on her chest where she's been exposing herself to small doses.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Sam lives on a mountaintop enclave and travels down into the Zone which is shrouded in a permanent fog of toxins which have made the Earth uninhabitable. She however finds the ruins quite beautiful, unlike Micah who is old enough to remember what the city was like Before and says they're full of ghosts.
  • Saying Too Much: Sam tells Micah that her father would be proud of him. The past-tense tips off Micah that her father is dead, and he breaks into his office to find only Cobwebs of Disuse.
  • Shout-Out
    • Sam develops a fascination with the poem Leda and the Swan by William Butler Yeats, eventually taking the risk of going to an art museum in the Zone just to see a painting on the subject.
    • Micah quotes from Plato's Symposium while discussing how humans are compelled to seek each other out.
  • Shower Scene: Used for UST when Sam takes a shower with Micah close enough to hear her. The audience only sees her Shoulders-Up Nudity and Toplessness from the Back and she later steps out in a Modesty Towel while sharing an awkward look with Micah.
  • Skyward Scream: Sam on finding the beehives have been destroyed by the storm.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: A surprisingly low-tech version of this in the form of Sam Walden (continuing a project started by her dead father, who also broadcast messages urging lingering humans not to leave Earth) who tried to clear out the toxic atmosphere by raising and training bees to pollinate enough oxygen-producing plants. By the time Sam succeeds she may be the last person left on Earth and it’s unclear if anyone who evacuated will come back.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: A non-fatal version. Sam is seen with Micah's son in the last scene, after he's left Earth and she stayed.
  • Vader Breath: Heard whenever a gasmask-wearing Sam is exerting herself or her oxygen is running low.
  • The Voice: Sam's boyfriend Elon, at IO.

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