GRAPHIC BY CAROL LI
BY ALEX CASTRO
Captive state? More like a captive audience.
Released on March 15, Captive State is a sci-fi thriller directed by Rupert Wyatt. Wyatt rose to fame for his work in the movie Rise of The Planet of the Apes. Captive State began filming in 2016 with a total budget of 25 million dollars but only made three million dollars in both domestic and foreign markets combined.
After landing on the planet, brief skirmishes occurred between humans and the “Legislators.” Eventually, the Legislators won and allow life to continue almost as normal, with the exception of the ban on electronic communication.
At first, the film follows Gabriel Drummond, a teenager orphaned by the Legislators in an attempt to escape their city nine years prior.
Drummond is looked over by Detective Mulligan played by John Goodman, who was a friend of his father’ and acts as an investigator into the mysterious rebel group, Phoenix.
Full of intricate and well-devised parts, the movie hinges on a thriller and mystery movie with a sci-fi element. However, in the end, Captive State falls flat due to inconsistent plot elements, character failures, underwhelming plot and overused cliches undermine the perpetual suspense and serious nature of the film.
Typically, providing backstory for a character provides extra depth and implies that there is an importance to the characters. Yet in this movie, the subjects of the backstory are not featured apart from the other characters, rendering the backstory irrelevant.
Next, the film switches perspective to various members of the organization as they prepare for a large attack. Yet, for the importance that the scene portrays, the audience receives no information on who the members are or their importance until they require emotional motivation. This tactic cheapens the characters as wholes and reflects badly on the other character’s developments later in the film.
Consequently, The audience cannot empathize with the members of the most important piece of the film. Therefore, when they are eventually killed off, the audience is not emotionally invested enough to warrant a response. There is also clear foreshadowing that these characters are disposable and will not survive the attack or its after effects
Moreover, the scene in which they die is not dramatic. The film runs as if the death of these side characters was important, but the lack of emotional connection undermines the very tense atmosphere of the situation.
Nevertheless, action scenes were plentiful but were ill choreographed and followed no rationale. Characters seemed to lose all rational thought as they were running towards or away from anything.
Given the nature of the film, there were many unexplained or non-specific elements of the films the directors did not think through. Many tools, abilities and machines are only used during specific circumstances and when they serve the plot. One instance of this is a weapon employed by the Legislators which can vaporize humans. This weapon is never explained or used to kill any of the important characters at any other time than at the beginning of the film and in one other circumstance.
During the opening of the film, the audience receives a large amount of relevant information but provided in such a curt and rushed way. This leads to unexplained occurrences and the use as long as it flows with the plot.
Despite the movie’s best efforts to focus on Gabriel, his character is lost in his irrelevance to the plot. The movie lacks focus and direction. Captive State tried to create full, fleshed out characters in too short of a time frame and gives the audience prefabricated storyline and static character they need to decipher by themselves.
The advanced CGI was realistic and through the use of shadows, in addition to well-designed scenery as scenery, excellently captured the disturbing mood. John Goodman’s acting remained convincing and very emotional throughout the entirety of the movie. He delivered his lines in a serious, and emotional voice which encompassed his character completely. His performance provided a strong backbone for the accompanying actors and made the complicated plot seem more straightforward. Nevertheless, the poorly written suspense and mystery proved to be too much for the acting to save.
Ultimately, Rupert Wyatt attempted to foster an air of mystery with an active story and strong characters.. However, he created more questions than he answered, the main characters were irrelevant and the storyline had many plot holes. The movie may have acquired a big budget but still could not capture our attention.