Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
IO Movie Poster Image
Bleak sci-fi dystopian tale has language, dark themes.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Adapt or die. Unexpected things can be good too. Don't underestimate the power of human connection.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Sam and Micah seem courageous and resourceful.


Environmental disaster has destroyed much of Earth's atmosphere, forcing most of the surviving population to travel to a far-off space colony on a moon of Jupiter. A storm destroys a scientist's work. A man describes watching his wife die of starvation. A woman chooses to die.


A man and woman kiss with clothes on. A painting of a nude woman is seen. A woman kisses a man but he tells her he "can't." She tells him he "has to." Then nothing happens.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that IO is a 2019 sci-fi dystopic exploration into climate change disaster. Some of the last surviving humans on Earth head for the last shuttle off the toxic planet. A few zones of breathable atmosphere remain, but scenes set in dead cities destroyed by deadly air provide an eerie context that may appear frightening to younger children. Walking this movie's bleak outlook back to present-day suggests the responsibility for the planet's predicted future destruction lies squarely in the hands of todays' viewers. A man and woman kiss. Language includes "f--k," and nude women are depicted in paintings. A man describes watching his wife die of starvation. A woman chooses to die.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRevalopod July 5, 2019

suitable for kids, watchable for no one

Messages/role models: none
Violence: a man shouts a bit. a pig is implied to have died. a woman is said to have died of starvation. A man is angry and hits a gl... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlexMopeio March 19, 2021

mope io movie?

wait one of the best mope playes can login and be the villin that nobody can defeat unless nh and bs
Teen, 13 years old Written byTaykieth March 27, 2020

Boring And it mostly goes nowhere

I tink it is boring and it basically goes nowhere.
Teen, 13 years old Written byiiridescence November 29, 2019

Simple yet meaningful

This is a great and simplistic movie yet great and meaningful on the subject of life. I love Sci-Fi and space. I saw that people didn’t think it was good and bo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Like The Hunger Games and Maze Runner, IO (pronounced "I-oh") predicts a grim future for earthlings, this time due to the destruction of the planet's natural resources, like clean air and water. The movie never explicitly outlines whether it was fossil fuels or other causes that made Earth uninhabitable, but when we meet 20-ish Sam (Margaret Qualley), she knows nothing of the way the Earth used to be, so clearly problems have been going on for quite a while. Her father, Dr. Walden (Danny Huston), was a scientist and advocate for staying on Earth to nurture it back to health, and their experiments together with beehives are at the heart of their reclamation efforts. But all has not been well in their isolated scientific enclave, and when a stranger drops out of the sky (in a helium balloon) to bring Sam and her dad to the last launch leaving Earth for the colony on Io, a moon of Jupiter, Sam must decide if she wants to make the journey and leave behind the desolate planet she and her father worked to revive.

Is it any good?

Teens who love dystopian tales may be interested but they are likely to be disappointed. IO is extremely slow-moving, and if it has a point, it would be difficult to articulate it without dredging up dozens of clichés from far better books and movies about equally-disastrous outcomes for our planet. The filmmakers seem to be educated people. The theory of evolution is explained in one oversimplified sentence. A character appreciates art and beauty. And Yeats' poem "Leda and the Swan" is recited, but to no particular, nor comprehensible, end. Older kids who like stories about grim futures can certainly find better alternatives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's unspoken message, that Earth's future could be grim if people don't stop polluting it now. Do you think IO is sending a pro-environmentalist message? What plot points or dialogue suggest a point of view?

  • The movie seems to suggest that no one can do it alone -- be happy, be productive, be fulfilled. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  • Do you think teens who watch this will be inspired to take better care of the environment? What can you do to make a difference?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

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