From 10 Cloverfield Lane to A Quiet Place, it’s become obvious that while endless mercenary Marvel flicks are busy trading in stultifying cliches – and President 45 is preparing to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a giant LEGO set in space – there are actually those attempting to frame our relationship with the galactic/preternatural in a more thoughtful, intelligent way.
And with his new film Captive State, the Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt asks the morally exigent question, What if aliens took control of Earth, and most humans just went along with it? So, naturally, the parallels with the current American political situation are glaringly obvious. And just as in real life, there are resistance fighters at work here – though these are brandishing actual weapons, rather than just slogan-bearing banners.
Curiously enough, under the new alien regime, all digital technology has been banned (hmm, maybe it’s not all that bad?); and Moonlight‘s Ashton Sanders plays a Chicago worker whose job it is to permanently wipe all information from mobile phones. He comes to take up the cause against the interplanetary “oppressors,” with the always excellent John Goodman acting as something of a contemporary Javert, an obedient human working to break that very rebellion.
Captive State is obviously rife with incisive metaphors, always a hallmark of the greatest works of modern sci-fi. Meaning, if you generally get excited about 28-minute superhero fight scenes, it may be a little heady for you. But if you want to see real life ethical conflict reflected back in a visually and viscerally elaborate cinematic work, this film is worth the patience and effort required to sort through its complex allusions and analogies.
Captive State opens Friday, March 15.