Invader Zim successfully returns to Earth

Courtesy of Netflix
Zim, pictured, first invaded children’s television screens on Nickelodeon in 2001.

Neil Runge | Staff Writer

08/22/19

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, released on Netflix this past Friday, is yet another film to join the long list of media from the 90s and early 2000s to be rebooted and brought back to life.

More than a decade since the final episode of the show aired, Netflix has partnered with Nickelodeon to bring viewers back to The City, its citizens, the titular alien Zim and his arch-enemy Dib.

Unlike other reboots though, Enter the Florpus doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It sticks to the things that made the original series so fun to watch. The quirky humor and jokes that middle schoolers think are the height of comedy are what made Invader Zim amazing and its reboot film just as good, even though most of its viewers aren’t in middle school anymore.

At its core, Invader Zim was always that grotesque and frankly odd show that was a staple for many people’s childhoods. It doesn’t abandon that in favor of, say, showing off computer technology in the name of a live-action remake. It stays true to the weird roots that made this show so popular during the early 2000s.

The adherence to the core aesthetic of Zim’s story in the new movie is largely thanks to the participation of the show’s original creator, Jhonen Vasquez. Netflix knew that any major creative departure from the classic series would be picked apart by loyal fans.

Vasquez is the main creative drive behind the characters that make up the world. He worked with the writers to build upon the Invader Zim characters and ideas that he originated.

Banking on an audience’s nostalgia wasn’t what brought Invader Zim and Dib back. It was the desire to continue a tale, to build lore and to show what had happened since the audience last saw these characters.

Under all of the jokes and behind the sharp lines of Vasquez’s famous art style is a new type of message. Invader Zim as a TV show was never really one to deliver deep messages but Enter the Florpus gave one about family.

It told the audience that family sticks around and supports weird interests and has your back no matter the situation. The writers changed an absent — and often mean — father to one that is confused by his son Dib’s interests but will stick by him and have his back.

Even with sticking to the essence of the world Vasquez created, minor changes were made, but they were far from bad. They gave depth to characters that were previously one-dimensional, added complexity to the world and made something already good into something better.

The art and story are captivating. The past decade of technological advancements allowed for a sharper, modernized style without sacrificing the distinctive visual aesthetic of the original.

This movie may be many fans’ introduction to Vasquez and his work, and there couldn’t have been a better start. It isn’t necessary to know every ounce of lore to find the film enjoyable.

This movie doesn’t disappoint. It’s colorful and funny. It uses nostalgia to draw in an audience but it doesn’t bank on it. Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is beautiful, early-2000s art.

 

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