by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
REVIEW.... Captive State Allegory Slowly, Confusingly  Probes Post Space Invasion Chicago

Search the net, stream a newscast, watch mainstream or alternative media. Themes are similar in many countries ...  can't we all get along? Whether legislatively or international relations , the failures to compromise and move forward abound. 

When "Captive State" opens, Earth has been taken over by an alien race. No "Independence Day" blasts, the story has nations one by one surrendering to the insect looking beings who obliterate humans to mist. Styled as a "Cloverfield" or "District 9" with "real time" one camera sections and lengthy scenes of a small dingy Chicago neighborhood resistance "cell," planning to make waves at a "unity" rally.

You have to pay attention --- that's sometimes difficult --- otherwise you will  consider this a nearly incoherent mess of civilization that traded freedom for security.  Civilians are too scared to speak and their broken human spirits are implied. For most of us, the characters seems to be caught in a video game about which we cannot interact or empathize.  

 Set in Chicago, the film explores the daily lives of humans living, working and surviving amidst the occupation of extraterrestrial life, though the aliens do their conquering mostly behind the scenes. Nine years later, they are called "legislators" and the majority of the world's population have drank the Kool-Aide and had a tracking  implant inserted.

REVIEW.... Captive State Allegory Slowly, Confusingly  Probes Post Space Invasion Chicago

John Goodman plays William Mulligan a ranking commissioner who investigates resistance. The porcupine and spidery invaders munch on earth's underground natural resources. Earthlings have been relieved of all things digital. We actually see a family watching TV together and  recurring shotts of a record player. 

Director Rupert ( Rise of the Planet of the Apes) Wyatt has an imposing landscape. A territory not often dwelled upon. Films do not often explore life immediately following an invasion from outer space where the good guys lose.  They are either "War of the Worlds" or "Mad Max" time lapses. 

Unfolding  slowly in a "Bourne,"  Alan J.Pakula's detailed, paranoid  style ("Pelican Brief," "Parallax View") , or "Battle of Algiers" mode, those not willing to live a grayish life from an apparent "Happy Days" era resort  quietly to analog devices be they Cold War or carrier pigeon for instigating revolt. The "cell" followed has a grand scheme to wake up the population from status quo no dissent by lighting a match and starting a "war" against these creatures. 

A unity rally at Soldier's Field is the target, where we see sketches  of post-invasion politics. The Battle Hymn of the Republic has been tweaked to include "alien" legislators and few question the new order with surveillance chips in their heads. 

REVIEW.... Captive State Allegory Slowly, Confusingly  Probes Post Space Invasion Chicago

Aside from enforcer Goodman ,  resistance and hope, are personified through a young  hero Gabriel, played by Ashton Sanders, best known for his performance in “Moonlight.” Gabriel lives in the  crumbling Chicago slum after his old neighborhood was destroyed by the aliens. Walls have been erected separating classes. It appears the familiar political power good ole boys have surface "power" to enforce the aliens demands.

Wyatt fails to illustrate sufficient glances of middle or professional classes. Gabriel does not interact with them. Goodman just reports to insects and a hooker. Of all the billions, nearly everyone just goes along with the autocrats. Nevertheless, subtle "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" infer twist and turns. How many are needed to erupt the conquered? 

"Captive State" settles for these neighborhood actions told from a nontraditional narrative style that  demands an unfulfilled wider expository perspective. Produced on a modest budget, the film attempts to avoid dypsonian cliches, except a few trashed skyscrapers. 

Yes, it's  structurally flawed and overly ambitious but not fatally; cult status awaits. You too often feel like you have just walked back into the film after a concession trip or temporary  personal interruption and don't know what the hell is transpiring. This "lost" sensation occurs more  than once or twice; the muddled vagueness no matter how hard you try cannot be justified as intentional.  

Can't write this off. One action favoring male answered a "reaction" in a succinct sentence. he got it. That's why  an after life awaits for this movie.