If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know that I am a science fiction geek. You also know that I have a tendency to only write reviews for documentary films. There have been a couple exceptions over the years. It is time to add “Captive State” to this exclusive list. This film is an underrated science fiction gem.
As with any good story, a key component is the characters. The characters in “Captive State” are intriguing and compelling. Ashton Sanders plays Gabriel Drummond. Gabriel was a child when the aliens invaded and took over the planet. He grew up in Chicago, one of the cities that have a closed zone. The closed zone is where the aliens live. Gabriel’s brother, Rafe Drummond played by Jonathan Majors, was part of a failed rebellion by a group called phoenix.
John Goodman plays the character William Mulligan a police officer. Mulligan believes that the not all of the rebellion group phoenix were killed and has a theory about how to find them.
There are less prominent characters that have a big impact on the story. Vera Farminga plays the part of a prostitute. The marine who runs an electric repair shop. The priest that no longer has a congregation. The medical student who never finished medical school. The newspaper man who submits the ads for the classifieds. And so many more like this that may have a small role in the movie but a large purpose in this story.
Speaking of the story, this one is pretty amazing the way it all ties together. Without saying too much and giving things away, each scene seems to flow into the next. It is seamlessly filmed.
The movie begins with a family trying to get out of a city. They drive through a barricade into a tunnel. After an interaction with an alien culture, the adults in the vehicle are killed. This dramatic start of the story leads right into the opening credits and a description of the alien invasion and how the dystopian world of the film came into existence. After the opening credits end, the main story begins with the start of Gabriel Drummond’s day as he gets up, meets up with a friend and heads to work.
There are some amazing visuals throughout the movie. The scene where William Mulligan unlocks a janitors closet to show that he has been tracking the phoenix group for years. The scene showing an underground radio station. A dog left in a field barking. People throwing contraband out windows during a police raid. The image of Gabriel walking past a burned out station wagon with a damaged hula doll attached to the dashboard. Space ships taking off across Lake Michigan. Each scene in the film “Captive State” has the feeling of being carefully chosen and adds to the overall visual richness of the story.
Rupert Wyatt directed and co-wrote the screen play with Erica Beeney. In an interview about the movie, Rupert Wyatt stated that he had been inspired by French resistance fighters from World War II when writing and directing this movie. I had seen the interview after watching the film. Upon a second viewing of “Captive State,” I could definitely see those influences.
Rob Simonsen composed the film’s score. The music in this film flows perfectly with the scenes of the movie. It captures the right feeling and sets the tone of the film.
I felt compelled to write about this film after watching it. There were so many things that were done really well and yet I had heard so little about it. I hope that if you are interested in science fiction films, that you will give “Captive State” a chance. If you have seen the movie, please let me know your thoughts on the film by leaving a comment.