2019 may be the best year to date for those who remember the golden days of Nickelodeon. In addition to a reboot of Rocko’s Modern Life, Netflix has released another long-awaited special: Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus.
The creation of Jhonen Vasquez, Invader Zim is the rather bizarre tale of an alien creature named Zim from outer space. As a member of the Irkens – an empire of alien beings which are hell-bent on ruling the universe – Zim is sent to Earth with the task of conquering it. He has his trials and errors, but ultimately, nothing will stop him until humanity is under his thumb.
Vasquez’ cartoon is quite a miracle when it comes to over-the-top antics, odd animation, and black comedy. As with Rocko’s Modern Life, Invader Zim had a good run before its cancellation in the mid-2000s. The show has seen its share of DVD releases and web-based fan posts, but otherwise it seemed like another dead-and-buried animated classic. However, on August 16th of this year, Netflix introduced audiences to the latest in the Zim saga. Titled Enter the Florpus, this film continues the madness that ended over a decade ago – and it has not lost its original vision whatsoever.
Enter the Florpus begins approximately 12 years since Zim’s last escapade. After seemingly vanishing without a trace, Zim re-emerges to enact his final phase of conquering Earth. Before he can proceed, Zim learns how his Irken commanders dispatched him to Earth as a means to get rid of him. This revelation shatters his morale and his ambition, rendering him completely vulnerable for the first time on this planet. Though at his lowest point, Zim has more up his sleeve than anyone could have imagined – and all it takes is this low point to trigger his creative rage.
Zim fans will fall in love all over again with the absurdist humor the show is infamous for. Almost all of the original cast reprises their roles, especially Richard Horvitz as Zim. Anyone familiar with Horvitz’ delivery will note how he takes a slightly Shakespearean approach with his performance. Lines and certain words are overly-projected, but this goes perfectly with the show’s original concept — Invader Zim is meant to be flashy and slightly grotesque in its delivery. The show comes off as a parody of almost every cartoon imaginable, whether through fart jokes, crass one-liners, or even fun with explosives. Close as it comes to pushing the envelope at times, it can’t be any more risky than Bugs Bunny dropping a stick of dynamite into the hands of Elmer Fudd. It’s animated lunacy at its finest.
Interestingly enough, the movie serves up a chilling warning for anyone who’s paying attention. The key to Zim’s conquest of humanity comes when he impersonates a scientist in order to sell a mindless commercial product on the eve of a universal holiday. As Zim states so eloquently, “All this time, trying to subjugate the humans, and all I had to do was charge them for it.” Ridiculous as the show is, the message is clear – all it takes to conquer humanity is their addiction to money and material gain. It’s as simple as it is brilliant.
As with the Rocko’s Modern Life reboot, newcomers may need to watch the original series in order to understand this film. Enter the Florpus is every bit as outrageous as a single episode, but those not used to the flashiness may be overwhelmed on a first viewing. All this aside, Enter the Florpus is a perfect continuation of a beloved series. It doesn’t try to hammer away a message or be fancy, so much as it tries to take everything people love about Saturday morning cartoons and go crazy – and it succeeds.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is as a wacky ride for anyone wanting gothic-style animation and black comedy. The cast faithfully reprises their roles and the action builds to pure excitement. Young children and newcomers may find this one a little bit too much, but those familiar with Invader Zim will love it from beginning to end.