‘Captive State’ falls short of expectations

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“Captive State” promises a fresh new take on the alien-occupation drama. What begins as a run-of-the-mill sci-fi thriller presents an intriguing twist, but still falls short in lieu of entertainment factor.

Nine years after the first contact with extraterrestrial life, Earth’s governments have finally surrendered to their new alien rulers. The leader of said aliens is known as “The Legislator.” The new alien rulers seek to impose their oppressive new dictatorship on Earth’s masses.

In response to the extraterrestrial takeover, the generically named rebel group Phoenix emerges and carries out various rebellious acts against the new dictators in a somewhat confusing and disjointed manner at that. All the major plot points are present, but the intricacies of the story are somewhat lacking leaving the audience scratching their heads the majority of the time.

John Goodman plays the detective, William Mulligan. Mulligan is the serious and brooding man tasked with putting a stop to the rebellious troublemakers. Combining forces with Ashton Sanders as Gabriel Drummond, a teenage rebel driven by the memory of his deceased older brother who is celebrated as a local hero after dying in a failed uprising, the pair serve as the emotional weight of the movie. Even this aspect of the film falls somewhat short as the most emotional scenes still feel watered down and nonspecific. The sentiments are simply generic and feel insincere.

After nearly an hour of setting the scene and premise, the cumulation of the film’s main idea remains largely unclear. Several dry and forgettable characters continue to be introduced over the course of the film but do nothing to further the plot or make the film more entertaining. The action is lacking, and all of the most exciting scenes are already in the trailer.

The form and tone remain bland and uninteresting throughout the course of the film. The all-important social and political themes that the film is supposedly driven by are muddled out by the unlikable and two-dimensional characters as well as the fragmentary and confusing progression of the film.

The message that this film seems to be attempting to convey is resilience in the face of adversity, but it stops there and fails to elaborate. The idea that a determined few can make a big difference in the long run is a played-out movie trope without the added intricacies and a more complex and composite plot. Whatever depth the film does possess is obscured by the subpar effort and filmmaking.

The film finally winds down to a disappointing and predictable conclusion when the alien overlords are quickly and easily beaten. What could have been a smart and exciting new take on a well-worn category of the sci-fi genre ultimately culminates to a bit of a letdown. If you’re looking for a generic sci-fi flick and come in with humbled expectations, this might be the film for you. It is relatively short and not intellectually demanding to watch. Otherwise, it may be best to steer clear of “Captive State.”

photo courtesy IMDb