“Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus” MOVIE REVIEW
By the end of 2002, the beloved black comedy scif-fi cartoon series “Invader Zim” was abruptly cancelled by Nickelodeon, disappointing fans everywhere, but we all rejoiced when a feature film was announced in April 2017, and it’s now available on NETFLIX.
In this movie, Zim finds out that the tallest aren’t coming to visit Earth, so he uses Professor Membrane’s new invention to steer the Irken mothership’s course, much to the tallest’s frustration – who hilariously refuses to go any direction except straight. Unfortunately, Zim has created a fracture in time and space, a black hole called a “Florpus”, so Dib and Gaz need to rescue the Professor from space prison, and save Earth from the Florpus.
If you’re worried if anything has changed since 2002, then abandon all your fears, because this is the same Invader Zim we all know and love. It’s like creator Jhonen Vasquez is carrying things on as normal, as if Season 2 never ended, so fans will be pleased that nothing has been dramatically altered or ruined.
I was concerned that this was just going to be a long episode of the series, the same usual formula we’ve come to expect, with Zim once again failing in his conquest, while Dib breathes a sigh of relief. At first, it does seem that way, but once the Florpus appears, we know that things have been pushed out of the status quo template, because we now have a far more apocalyptic narrative at hand.
While the show was set in a dark dystopia, things were often kept quite small, with Zim’s schemes only affecting the school, town, or Dib’s life, but this film justifies it’s feature length by expanding the threat’s size. There’s a constant feeling of impending doom, especially when we have no idea what the Florpus is, with no one ever explaining where it’s portal will lead to; it’s a great way to make everything feel big and tense.
There’s also a running subplot about Dib’s relationship with his father, exploring a more sentimental side of their family bond, and adding some drama to all the chaos of the world ending. It is funny how Membrane doesn’t believe his son about Zim being an alien, because he is so faithful to science, but there’s only so much that joke can do, so it’s nice to finally see their relationship develop. Heck, Membrane even gets to play the badass hero, a role that he’s never been cast as (as far as I remember), it’s awesome seeing him looking THIS cool.
Oh and the inclusion of a “Fake Dad” is brilliant, this botched Zim experiment is a delight, a big loud mouthed monster dressed like the professor, determined to nail his character – even though he doesn’t represent membrane at all. He may have been built for evil, but there’s something very endearing about him! His purpose is to keep Dib and Gaz trapped, yet he has this big childish heart, really believing that this is his family.
Expect the same Invader Zim sense of humour as before, a strange hybrid of surrealism, black comedy, and random silliness! Pretty much every joke landed for me, to the point where my stomach would hurt sometimes. It’s a style of comedy that I personally love, weirdly sinister yet stupidly ridiculous too. If you are nervous whether Invader Zim can still make you laugh, let me reassure you that the writers have not lost their magic, because this is one of the funniest films that I’ve watched this year.
For the most part, the animation is pretty much the same as the TV show, which does give the film a TV Movie look, even with an apocalypse narrative to work with. However, the cartoony style serves well for the comedy, with the stupidity of everything being enhanced by over the top expressions – even though the animation can have some iffy movement for some shots. That’s not to say that the animation is devoid of anything special, because there are some pretty creative visuals, especially when the camera is allowed to glide or depict something cinematic.
The animation is at it’s peak, when the Florpus starts coming closer to earth as the art styles begin frequently changing, giving us a wide array of mediums, each depicting a wild series of glitchy imagery. Heck, you’ll totally get “Into the Spider-Verse” vibes with this film, as the animation does get that imaginative in the finale, bending reality like Spider-verse did. The laser explosion effects are pure eye candy too, intricately vibrant zaps and booms that are splendidly impressive, often making the film look almost anime-esque.
To Conclude, this Invader Zim movie is the continuation that fans wanted, with everything we love about the show still in tact, but it knows that it needed to return with a bang, so we’re also given a story that feels like a spectacular event. It maybe more valuable to longtime fans of the TV show, with it’s many references or in jokes. Plus it’s also not exactly a franchise that’ll be easy to get a new generation into easily (I mean, it’s pretty damn weird haha), but it all makes for a fantastic Invader Zim special that fans have dreamed of for almost 17 years.
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