December 8, 2021

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Captive State review: a failed experiment?

Captive State immerses you in a futuristic world where aliens have taken power on Earth. While there is a lot that can be faulted with Ruper Wyatt’s film (Planet of the Apes: The Origins), ambition is not one of them. But this aspiration ends up serving the plot which becomes a monumental mess of experiments of all kinds. If we had to give one piece of advice before embarking on the adventure, it is: hang in there.

Captive State takes you into a futuristic world. The prologue is responsible for describing the situation to you, but already there, it’s confusing. Aliens invaded Earth without much difficulty. Humans offered little resistance to them. So nine years later, the aliens call themselves the “lawmakers” and dictate the laws of the land. Big cities are now closed areas where humans work to build tunnels for aliens.

Creatures from another world only make brief appearances in the film, content to rule Earth from the underworld. Only a few hand-picked humans are allowed to enter their lair. A few others had the privilege of learning their language made up mostly of tongue clicks (no, that’s not a joke). Those who would try to resist are deported to another world. But you will never know again. Welcome to 2027 in Chicago where resistance is trying to build itself. The basic idea, even if it is not original, has a certain potential but do not expect a blockbuster: you would become disillusioned very quickly.

A disjointed scenario
Trying to understand the scenario quickly turns out to be a real challenge: everything is confusing and confusing. The story is too dispersed for the spectators to really get caught up in the game. We must admit that the heroes of the story (are there really any?) Lost us in the middle of the streets of Chicago. From what we understand, a resistance is set up and within it, two brothers occupy the foreground: Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) and Rafe (Jonathan Major). If Rafe is presumed dead, Gabriel works in the factory like a good little soldier but things change when Rafe comes back from the dead and decides to go on the attack. The eyes of aliens are everywhere though… Mulligan (John Goodman) plays the ambiguous role par excellence. Local policeman, former ally of the deceased father of the two brothers, he awkwardly watches over Gabriel while working for the aliens. We can easily guess the double play of the character but it will be necessary to wait until the very last minutes for that to be clarified and again… Even the conclusion of the film does not manage to solve all the mysteries which surround the intrigue.

A human drama
Rupert Wyatt’s idea was interesting, however. Rather than focusing on aliens and how they managed to take control of Earth, the director chose the bias to focus on humans and their moods. If we had to define the role of each actor in the rebellion, it would be, alas, mission impossible. Their roles are so confused and diffuse that it is difficult to distinguish who does what. Even after watching the film, it’s hard to put names on faces. Are there too many characters? Possible but they are especially under-exploited which means that you will hardly get attached to them.

They have no past and even less a future. It is difficult to place them on a timeline. Their stories are intertwined endlessly without making much sense. The relationship between Gabriel and Rafe is overwhelmed, the two characters find it difficult to function together. The big brother seeks to protect his younger brother but he lacks the emotion to maintain the dramatic tension. The action is orchestrated around the resistance, but it is not always successful. Whatever happens, we always feel like we are one step behind the story. And it’s a shame, we stay on our hunger, too many ideas are launched without ever being exploited. It lacks a central character around which the action would be articulated.

Everything is said in half words and that tends to make us lose track of things. The action is orchestrated around the resistance, but it is not always successful. Whatever happens, we always feel like we are one step behind the story. And it’s a shame, we stay on our hunger, too many ideas are launched without ever being exploited. It lacks a central character around which the action would be articulated. Everything is said in half words and that tends to make us lose track of things. The action is orchestrated around the resistance, but it is not always successful. Whatever happens, we always feel like we are one step behind the story. And it’s a shame, we stay on our hunger, too many ideas are launched without ever being exploited. It lacks a central character around which the action would be articulated. Everything is said in half words and that tends to make us lose track of things.

A dark and heavy atmosphere
The atmosphere of the film perfectly reflects the state in which the Earth and its inhabitants find themselves. The streets of Chicago are dirty. The sky is gray. All the colors are dull. The greenery has disappeared. It is as if the arrival of the aliens had killed all life on Earth. You will never see a ray of sunshine or a character wearing light colors. The atmosphere reflects the general feeling of the feature film. It is a jumble of ideas with exchanged secrets, fomented shenanigans which contribute to the heavy atmosphere of the film but which does not help you to hang up the wagons. If you leave the room with heavy shoulders, it is only because of the latent melancholy that the sets convey.

Invisible aliens
The alien invasion is the starting point of the film but don’t expect a horrific blockbuster. If we had to count their time on screen, it would not exceed 5 min. These aliens have bodies covered with steel thorns, much like swords. Difficult to describe but imagine a porcupine with swords instead of thorns, it will give you an idea. Their head? Once again difficult to portray, we only see them too quickly to be able to make a precise description of them. Their faculty? They are able to disintegrate humans (much like Thanos in Avengers). In short, these extraterrestrials want to be scary but the fear will ultimately be based more on psychological tension. A daring choice but something is missing so that we can really stick to the story.

The second appearance of these extraterrestrial creatures is no more illuminating. We do not even understand why they appear at this precise moment. In addition to being boring, it is frustrating. It is also after this second failed appearance that some spectators discreetly left the room.

In short, you won’t see much of aliens or gasping action sequences. The scenes are short and the tension sometimes high, but the breath subsides in a few seconds. The whole forming a big gloubiboulga which Rupert Wyatt did not know how to take advantage of. And that’s a shame.