If anyone ever bothers to ask, my all-time favorite movie is actually the TV Mini-Series “V” for me it’s a near perfect movie. Maybe not technically and sure it’s special affects don’t hold up to today’s standards, but from a story point of view I think it’s the perfect film. It’s a film that’s about something more than just explosions it asks what you would do if fascists took over. Would you be collaborator or resistance fighter and it one line in the movie has always stuck with me – “One man’s resistance is another’s terrorist.” I hoped that Captive State would scratch that itch for me, sadly it fails on almost every level. Maybe that’s harsh.
The problem with this movie is that it wants us to sympathize with the resistance but Director Rupert Wyatt best known for the surprise hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes saddles us with characters and Aliens that we don’t really know nor care about. The movie doesn’t show us anything from the Alien’s point of view all we know are they are really creep and ugly looking, they came and took over the world and that’s it. But why are they here? What’s their larger plan? What makes them tick? Are they really evil?
We’re supposed to believe they are evil simply because a couple of paranoid characters tell us they are, but from the Collaborator’s point of view the Aliens brought order to a chaotic world, the wealthy are very wealthy and the poor are still poor. There’s no crime on the streets and most people have jobs. Doesn’t seem like a bad life when you are rich and if you are poor, eh the movie didn’t do a good enough job showing us the poverty that everyone else lives in nor the disparity between rich and poor.
Sure they all live in a police state where they are constantly being monitored by a very stoic Captain William Mulligan (John Goodman) but again even that is mostly benign. We don’t see any examples of out of control police, or police brutality. Even the film’s main “hero,” Rafe (Jonathan Majors ) is ambivalent about the resistance when his, long thought dead brother Gabriel (Ashton Sanders ) resurfaces. Ok, that’s a stretch his brother gives him money to leave Chicago.
There’s nothing in this movie to hang your hat onto, the characters are bland, the story isn’t balanced or nuanced and the direction is drab and uninspired. The world they built is literally looks fuzzy and hazy. The few times the aliens come out its at night time and they stay in these deep underground tunnels that they conscript humans to build for them. The ship design look like giant space rocks and the CGI used is very low budget. I’ve seen better on fan videos. The camera work look amateurish which is amazing considering Rupert Wyatt has had big budget, big screen success in the past.
This entire production feels weirdly like a direct to home movie, which isn’t meant to be a slam, especially considering how high quality a lot of current direct to home movies are these days. I wanted to love this film or at least come away asking larger philosophical questions like “V – The Mini Series” makes me ask myself every time I watch it, instead I walked away thinking. Eh, it was decent, but I’d never want to watch it again.
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