‘Utopia’ assessment: Amazon’s drama is a few fictional pandemic in the midst of an actual one

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For probably the most half, this Amazon collection — tailored by “Gone Lady’s” Gillian Flynn from a 2013 British present created by Dennis Kelly — works by rapidly establishing a definite dramatic life, providing a bleak prism into an alternate actuality. Steeped in comedian books and popular culture, it is an particularly applicable companion for what has quick develop into Amazon’s signature drama, the darkish superhero satire “The Boys.”
That mentioned, a disclaimer: Though the producers have mentioned the violence is toned down from the unique, the quantity of ugly torture, extraordinarily excessive physique depend and threats to youngsters clearly aren’t for everybody, and the even-remotely squeamish needs to be forewarned.

The intelligent set-up hinges on the truth that clues to what’s transpiring reside inside a hallowed, secret comedian, one which produced a faithful cult of geeky fanatics engaged in a mad quest for its pages, earlier than being out of the blue thrust into the kind of real-life journey that has occupied their fantasies.

“Utopia” begins with a younger couple discovering the comedian — left of their new home, as collectibles generally are — yielding a feeding frenzy to purchase it. But after they go to a conference often called FringeCon to barter a sale, that draws not solely the prolonged on-line group however shadowy forces seemingly decided to erase any data of its existence.

That forces the central quartet — a likable if eccentric bunch, performed by Ashleigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd, Jessica Rothe and Desmin Borges — to go on the run, quickly joined by a mysterious determine (Sasha Lane) with specific data in regards to the comedian’s origins. A lot, a lot mayhem follows, constructed in a manner that permits these relationships to steadily develop — together with a candy, awkward romance — whereas delivering common surprises and constructing suspense.

The thriller of “Utopia” hinges on the truth that the unique comedian, Dystopia, in some way predicted the threats to come back, together with outbreaks of lethal ailments. The motion unfolds as a brand new pandemic arises, with the unsavory wrinkle that somebody appears to be utilizing the virus to experiment on youngsters — one other space the place “Utopia” tiptoes as much as a reasonably treacherous line, creatively talking.

Rainn Wilson in 'Utopia.'

Amid the real-world prevalence of loopy conspiracies percolating via social media, “Utopia” feels uncomfortable at first. The mounting jeopardy, nevertheless, retains pulling the viewers additional down this quirky rabbit gap, crammed with mysterious characters like a rich tech titan (John Cusack) championing a vaccine and a virologist (Rainn Wilson) enlisted to assist eradicate the hazard.

“Creepy” finest describes the final ambiance, with members of the cultish group pursuing the nerds saying issues like “What have you ever executed at this time to earn your house on this crowded world?”

“Utopia” is at occasions uncomfortable and infrequently ugly, however as edgy dramas go, successfully maintains its momentum from one hour to the following. For these with the abdomen for such stuff, that is greater than sufficient to earn a spot on a crowded streaming menu.

“Utopia” premieres Sept. 25 on Amazon.

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