The Duck doesn’t normally do movie reviews…or watch that many modern movies in general. (I don’t even have cable anymore. Why was I paying to watch TV with commercials anyway?) But last Friday, something very special came to Netflix…Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus. Below, I’d like to indulge in a brief moment of nostalgia, followed by a little review summarizing my thoughts on this momentous occasion in human history.
To give you a little bit of background, Invader ZiM is a…weird…a really weird cartoon about an incompetent alien named ZiM who, with very little help whatsoever from his hyperactive robot sidekick Gir, tries to take over planet Earth on behalf of the Irken Empire. Of course, ZiM is so very incompetent that the Irken leaders, known as the Tallest (because they are, literally, the tallest Irkens) only sent him to Earth to get the green, little psycho as far away from them as possible. I would be very remiss indeed to forget Dib, a preteen boy who happens to be the only one aware that Zim’s an alien…and the only one actively trying to stop him. Actually, I think his gamer sister Gaz knows the truth, as well…she just doesn’t care.
As a duckling, I began watching Invader ZiM way back when it was still readily available on cable TV. I even remember seeing the commercials back in the day and knowing that this was one show that I simply couldn’t miss. I didn’t watch tons of cartoons back then, but Invader ZiM was just so delightfully different. The show was absolutely hilarious and quirky and oh, so dark and morbid. It’s one of those twisted cartoons that you can enjoy just as much, if not more so, when you grow up. (Because heck, just because I’m old enough to drive a car doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching cartoons!)
Unfortunately (or maybe it was for the best), the show was cancelled after less than 30 episodes. I think parents found the show too dark for their children to watch, plus I can’t deny that the show kind of went downhill after season one. When it comes to ridiculous humor like one sees on Invader ZiM, there’s a fine line between funny and downright absurd, and the show stepped into the realm of absurd in its later episodes.
Getting by on my full DVD collection of all the episodes, including a bunch that I think were either not aired in America or only aired once, I was thrilled to see that Invader ZiM had recently crossed into the realm of comic books…and even more ecstatic when I found out about the Netflix movie, Enter the Florpus.
Cue the review. Minor spoilers to follow.
To be honest, there’s not a whole lot to say because my following statement probably speaks worlds. Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus brings back all of our favorite characters, the same style of animation, and the same insane humor…and makes us forget that it was ever gone at all. That fact alone says a lot because this movie is as faithful to the original show as possible. It’s like reuniting with a friend after 20 years and being delightfully surprised that they haven’t changed at all. I’m also so happy that everyone’s original voice actors have returned, and they are completely spot-on with their delivery (with the exception of Professor Membrane, whom I feel sounds…just a little off).
Video from YouTube User: Gian
The show opens with, frankly, a super awesome anime-style intro that I have since re-watched several times due to its sheer…um…awesomeness. After that, the movie recaps some of the events from the comics, namely how gross Dib has gotten over the years as he obsessively waited for Zim to return (Zim was apparently plotting in the toilet the whole time…) and Dib’s efforts to get back into shape in time to stop Zim’s newest plot. While I was really happy to see an animated version of something I had previously only read in comic book form, the first chunk of the movie does drag on a bit. Of course, I was still laughing a good deal, but the pacing was a bit poor nonetheless.
That all changes after Zim’s plans are set into motion and the plot really gets moving. At this point, I’m going to withhold most of the details of what happens because I feel like the earlier paragraph only spoils things you could have learned about anyway from the comics and movie trailers. Let’s just say that Zim gets closer to taking over the Earth than he ever has before.
I’m going to stop there as far as summarizing goes and say that, while the movie was still very funny and entertaining, I feel like it’s a bit more akin to the later episodes, when the show started to go a bit downhill and the humor became…too ridiculous. I mean, the show was always ridiculous, but there was a huge difference between such amazing episodes as Dark Harvest in season 1, where Zim stole organs from his fellow classmates in order to appear more human, and, well, a lot of the episodes from season 2 (episode titles include: The Girl Who Cried Gnome and, ahem, Gaz, Taster of Pork…please don’t make me list any more). The movie is a heck of a lot better than episodes from the latter category, but I’m not sure it was as good as the show’s better episodes, either.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from an Invader ZiM movie. But I wanted more…I wanted something more important and meaningful to happen at the end. The ending was really anticlimactic, and it basically ends off as if nothing ever happened, probably opening up the show for potentially more episodes in the future. Likewise, while the movie almost explored a few interesting topics, they ultimately went nowhere. Okay, spoilers to follow again. But don’t worry, the last two paragraphs are safe.
For example, when Zim finally discovered that his leaders never had any faith in his ability to conquer Earth, he becomes so depressed that he can do little more than mope around (from underneath a mound of cheese at one point…this is Invader ZiM we’re talking about). This could have led to some interesting plot developments…until it didn’t and Zim went right back to attempting to take over Earth again, still obliviously calling the Tallest at the end of the movie and letting them know how his plans were coming along. Good grief, Zim, your leaders couldn’t care less about you!
Secondly, Dib struggled throughout the whole movie with getting his father, Professor Membrane, to believe him about Zim being an alien. Despite going through some pretty crazy stuff together while attempting to save Earth from the Florpus, at the end, the Professor once again believes everything that happened was simply his imagination. I mean…come on! Can’t poor Dib ever catch a break!
I think the movie was so focused on being funny and ridiculous (and not wanting to jeopardize the possibility of the show returning) that it was afraid to delve deeper into its characters and make any lasting impact. Even though the show was always a comedy first and foremost, it could also get pretty dark, and I think there were moments the movie could have taken itself just a little more seriously without sacrificing the overall silly tone.
I still really enjoyed Enter the Florpus. It was pretty much exactly what one would expect from an Invader ZiM movie. Sure, it could have been better, but if you’re an Invader ZiM fan, I would highly recommend checking it out. And if you’re new to the show, you might want to see if you can find some of the episodes on YouTube. Perhaps start with The Nightmare Begins and Dark Harvest. Invader ZiM might be too absurd to just jump into without the right preparation….