Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Plot: Nine years after an invasion an alien race called the “Legislators” have placed humans under martial law. A human resistance cell in Chicago seeks to strike a blow against the alien dominators and incite a war among the subjugated populace.
Review: I missed this Sci Fi thriller by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) when it came out in 2019, so when I saw it pop up on HBO MAX I decided to check it out. And yeah, I can’t say I had missed much.
I’ll start with the positives first. The film does a decent job of creating a tense atmosphere throughout. The odd design of the aliens is cool and something I have never seen before. There are also a couple of interesting set pieces. And veteran actor John Goodman, who plays dour Chicago Police Special Branch Commander Mulligan and previously dealt with an alien threat in Ten Cloverfield Lane, does deliver a solid performance. Sadly, the rest of the characters, including resistance member Rafe (played by star-on-the rise Jonathan Majors of Lovecraft Country, Da 5 Bloods, The Harder They Fall, Loki), Rafe’s younger brother Gabriel (Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders), and a prostitute named Jane (the extremely talented Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring franchise, Bates Motel, Hawkeye), feel thin and undeveloped. It’s difficult to feel worried about the fate of people when they are so one-dimensional.
Now there have been a fair share of alien invasion films but alien domination films are more rare. So the concept of exploring a city being run as a police state by shadowy alien overlords is an intriguing concept. But despite an almost two hour run-time this dystopian world never feels fleshed out nor lived in. While I appreciate the focus was more on the resistance intrigue I never got a true sense of place, only a couple of glimpses. And I think that was a major missed opportunity.
So after checking out Captive State I’m not surprised it bombed at the box office, got mixed reviews from critics and has fallen into relative obscurity. There are a few elements that work here but overall the film never fully delivers on its enticing premise.
Editor Jules’s Score: 5 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.