December 8, 2021

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[Review] US Utopia: conspiracy glorification

Let’s say straight away, there are two ways to view the American version of Utopia, available on Amazon Prime Video since October 30. Either you’ve had the chance to see Dennis Kelly’s deeply disturbing British masterpiece (which shamefully missed out on the ending and lasted only two seasons due to a lack of viewers), or you haven’t seen it and you need to fix this misstep right away. Have you seen the English version or not, is Utopia US worth a visit? Answer below.

“This series is a work of fiction, which is not based on the current pandemic or real events.” A warning before each episode of Utopia US that may seem trivial, but actually shows a desire to separate the plot of the series from what is happening in the real world, namely the endless coronavirus disease pandemic. Utopia, we might say, is a bit of a dream come true for any self-respecting conspirator: while the flu kills kids in America’s disparate schools, a small group of freaks get together because they share a rather far-fetched theory. that the comic book Utopia is not fiction and depicts a very real international conspiracy. Very quickly, their various adventures finally proved them right. This early synopsis for the US series is no different from its British older sister, even if Gillian Flynn, creator of the American version, has opted to flesh out the screenplay a bit by Dennis Kelly, the father of Utopia.UK.

The US Utopia remains very similar to the original British series in terms of script, comparisons are inevitable. It’s worth noting that it’s not because the American series takes on the history of Utopia UK (with relative accuracy) that there’s no need to abandon the original series for all of that. Utopia 2013 is a must, and not just for the scenario (we’ll come back to this).

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The US version manages to make a pretty crazy plot finally very credible. However, this success is mainly attributed to the early English version of the scenario. Note that the first American season offered a scenario with more branches, where plot elements were very explicit, where they were more recommended in Utopia UK. This is a pretty classic “American treat”. Fortunately, this 2nd version doesn’t betray the English version in any way, despite some inconsistencies. Did he do well on the form? The original series did surprise the spirit with its singularity at this level.

A very disturbing and confusing soundtrack (created by the excellent Juan Cristobal Tapia de Veer), colorful and utterly surreal photography, assumed and shocking ultra violence, wacky characters… All these elements combined have made the early Utopia, creepy (in a good sense). sense) and very unhealthy work, sprinkled with very dark humour. Just for your ears, this sample from the Utopia UK soundtrack will give you an idea of ​​what we’re talking about.

Amazon’s adaptation has the advantage of not being content to copy/paste early series at this level. Unfortunately, it also fails to produce anything original and looks bad compared to Utopia UK. However, note that some scenes and shots are nearly identical reproductions of the original series. Some will see it as a tribute, others a pale imitation.

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Another problem arises in US Utopia: violence. Not that it matters too much, on the contrary, it is an absolute necessity in the case of Utopia. But US ultra-violent Utopia is no longer subversive in 2020. Other series have been around since 2013, like The Boys for example, another big Amazon production. Therefore, Utopia US bets on “fun” violence, somewhat similar to The Boys., where Utopia UK violence is unparalleled brutality, sometimes to the extent of controversy. Just one example to illustrate this fact, guaranteed without spoilers. In Utopia UK, one scene in particular has sparked controversy, not least because it was inspired by a “category of events” that is rarely transcribed in fiction (this summary description will probably mean nothing to those who haven’t seen the series, but those who did. had seen it would probably understand what scene it was). In the American version, this same scene was rewritten appropriately so as not to cause controversy (or even court). All this to say that the American adaptation gives a “thaw” feeling when we look at the original series. This principle also applies to the soundtrack, very shy compared to Utopia UK.

Among the famous faces in the US Utopia cast, we find the actor in many of John Cusack’s films, who played the CEO of Machiavelli.from a pharmaceutical company. If Cusack is a confirmed actor, his interpretation of season one’s main antagonist is relatively mundane. Already used to remake with The Office US, Rainn Wilson plays a desperate virology researcher. If it’s refreshing to see Wilson in a less comical role than usual, he plays, like John Cusack, a character who is ultimately less original. But especially in the other two protagonists the disappointment is huge: on the one hand, the young Sasha Lane in the skin of Jessica Hyde with a rather tasteless “crime”, and on the other, Christopher Denham, who plays a lot of roles. psychopaths are too cartoonish. Once again, the series suffers greatly in comparison to the original material: in Utopia UK, Jessica Hyde (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) and ruthless killer Arby (Neil Maskell) are mirrored in the series that tells their stories of incomparable and refreshing quirks.