‘Captive State’ Also Wants In On All This Resistance

The new trailer for Captive State opens very similarly to the original one released just a few months ago. John Carpenter’s Escape From New York narrator reiterates that “The state of our union is strong.” John Goodman stares at a bank of television screens triumphantly transmitting images of an unchanged Whtie House. Then a gargled voice crackles below government sanctioned propaganda championing a record low unemployment, “It’s a lie.”

The B.S. adverts shatter. The voice continues, “Everything they’re telling you…” We see three masked men carrying batons escorting a terrified woman towards a white, unmarked van. After one man cracks a protestor across the skull, the disembodied voice finishes it’s thought, “…is a lie.” Just another day in America in 2018. Not quite.

Rupert Wyatt had plenty to say when he launched the simian revolution in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Like so many filmmakers before him, he used science-fiction as a trumpet for societal anger. We don’t deserve this planet we were born onto, and if we refuse to let go of our willful ignorance, then he’s perfectly content to let the animals take over the zoo.

Wyatt is done with subtlety. In Captive State, he’s attacking our acceptance of necessary evil as a means to keep money in our wallets and food in our bellies. The brilliance of this narrative is setting it ten years after a total alien takeover of planet Earth. Sure, we’re slaves, but I’ve got a job, crime is low, and most importantly, there is a roast in the oven.

The “I” trumps the “we.” Nevermind the constant threat of annihilation and the suppression of free thought. That might be someone else’s problem, but we’re cool here. All you need to do is listen to the commercials on the television.

This new trailer focuses on the resistance. Goodman may be toeing the company line and fighting to maintain America’s greatness, but Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) is joining the trenches, looking to rise as the phoenix of resistance. If you skip on back to their viral site thelegislaturegov.com you will find that the alien PR team has been hacked by Sanders’ new friends.

We get new images of a heard of humans filing aboard an alien vessel hovering over the water. There are neighborhoods locking up after dark, their streets ablaze with riots, and drones registering the faces of transgressors. As the voice promises revolution, we also hear and see a spray can in action, punctuating the angry chant with the mark of a resistance cell.

The gargled voice demanding a change of leadership belongs to Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick) and right when he hits peak confidence the trailer concludes with our first, shaky, blurry image of our alien oppressor. “Oh my god, what is this?” The creature is a rush of bendy limbs, covered in porcupine quills. Not cuddly. At the end of this sci-fi metaphor is a nasty, gory battle to satiate our genre needs.

Captive State shares plenty with Snake Plissken, Soylent Green, They Live, The X-Files, and District 9 but I appreciate how closely Wyatt is adhering to recognizable reality. For art to make any kind of significant impact today, sledgehammers, not scalpels, are required. Fight the power.

The film arrives in theaters on March 29, 2019.

Brad Gullickson: @@MouthDork Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.