Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Movie Review: Captive State

Captive State ** / *****
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt   
Written by: Erica Beeney & Rupert Wyatt.
Starring: John Goodman (William Mulligan), Ashton Sanders (Gabriel Drummond), Jonathan Majors (Rafe Drummond), Vera Farmiga (Jane Doe), Kevin Dunn (Commissioner Eugene Igoe), James Ransone (Patrick Ellison), Alan Ruck (Charles Rittenhouse), Madeline Brewer (Rula), Machine Gun Kelly (Jurgis), Kevin J. O'Connor (Kermode), Ben Daniels (Daniel), Caitlin Ewald (Anita), Lawrence Grimm (Evan Hayes), Guy Van Swearingen (Eddie the Priest), Elena Marisa Flores (Flores), D.B. Sweeney (Levitt), Rene L. Moreno (Courier), Yasen Peyankov (Hacker), Ta'Rhonda Jones (Barbosa), Shannon Cochran (Kathy Mulligan), Patrese McClain (Flora), Chike Johnson (John), Megan Brooke Long (Jean Hayes), Chronicle Ganawah (Posner), Alex Henderson (Theo), KiKi Layne (Carrie). 
I feel like I’ve said this a few times over the last year or two – but Captive State is a movie I wanted to like a lot more than I did. I think our movie culture needs more films like Captive State – fairly large budget audience films that come from original ideas – not part of some larger 20 film franchise, not based on comic books or other properties – but large scale audience pleasers that are truly original. I just wish that the resulting movies would be better than something like Captive State. I admired what the film tried to do – and yet have to admit that it pretty much fails at delivering what it sets out to do. When there are so few films this big, based on original ideas, being made – why can’t the end result be better.
The biggest single problem with Captive State is that it takes so much time setting everything up that the film feels like one big exposition dump, and then an anti-climactic ending. The premise should be simple – it’s 9 years after an alien invasion, and humans have essentially become an occupied population. The governments of the world gave up fairly quickly, when it became clear that the aliens could, if they wanted to, wipe out the population. All these years later, humans hardly ever see the aliens anymore – the ones still are earth in the “closed” areas of every major city in the world – where some humans, and the aliens, are at work harvesting the planet’s resources (you would think that our resources wouldn’t be located in cities – but whatever). The story centers on Gabriel (Ashton Sanders, from Moonlight) whose brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors) was apparently killed some years earlier during an attempted attack on the alien closed area in Chicago. But maybe he wasn’t killed – and maybe the resistance to the aliens is not dead. Gabriel is under surveillance by William Mulligan (John Goodman) – a cop who used to be partners with his father – who both seems to want to protect Gabriel, while staying out of sight, and tow the company line for the aliens to get in their good graces.
That’s just a brief overview of the plot – trust me, there’s a lot more, and the movie takes a long time setting everything up, and who everyone is – and there are a lot of characters. Through it all, there’s little else in the movie that is all that entertaining. The aliens – who either have long, spiky hair or armor (depending on what you think) are largely absent from the movie – at least after the first scene, set during the invasion, which is as close to as a real action sequence that you expect from an alien invasion movie. Most of the rest of the film is exposition and misdirection on the part of the filmmakers – who want you to understand the full, complicated backstory they’ve come up with, but also throw you off the scent of what is coming next.
In short, Captive State is a pretty dull film. It almost plays like the opening chapter in a longer story – an extra-long pilot episode of a TV series (although, if that were the case, you’d need to include more action to make viewers come back for another episode). Captive State is essentially all setup – all to get us to a finale that isn’t very good, and feels rushed – as the movie then has to explain why everyone is now acting in ways that seem run counter to how they acted throughout the rest of the movie.
The film was directed by Rupert Wyatt – whose best film was the first (and least) of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy – which was a good setup, although it pales in comparison to what Matt Reeves accomplished in the latter two chapters of that trilogy. Captive State is a frustrating experience, because the setup is genuinely good, and I think there are interesting ideas throughout. But they never come together into a film that interesting – or entertaining – as a whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment