Invasion: Mars Attacks softly, but beautifully (critical)


Released today on Apple TV +, this very beautiful SF series, discouragingly slow, nonetheless remains a superb approach to the genre, with overflowing humanity.

Don’t expect the White House to explode! Invasion, it’s not that kind of sci-fi. The series, which has just released its first three episodes on Apple TV +, is more psychological warfare than star wars. Little or no big show. But an atmosphere of the end of the world overwhelming, overwhelming, bathed in a sumptuous photography.

In this story imagined by David Weil (Hunters) and Simon Kinberg (screenwriter of the last films X-Men), the Aliens land. But slowly. Discreetly. After a Japanese space mission exploded in mid-flight, several disasters occurred to the four corners of the Earth: air crashes, blackouts, explosions in large cities … Who is behind all this? The world believes in a massive terrorist attack. But the threat obviously comes from elsewhere …

Officially, we are in a science fiction series. But in reality, we are more in a human drama. Invasion describes the hostile arrival of aliens focusing on how ordinary people react to chaos. Closer to Babel (2006) that d‘Independence Day (1996), closer to First contact (2016) than War of the Worlds (2005), Invasion Above all, focuses on telling personal stories, of mourning, of couples who tear each other apart, of sheriffs in search of meaning before retirement, or of college students who are ill in their skins and left to fend for themselves … The series takes us round in turn in the United States, in England, in Japan or in Afghanistan focusing on showing how humanity at large can behave in the face of a wave of inexplicable events.

The only problem: you hardly ever see the extraordinary events in question! They are suggested, a lot. Teased, often. But this Invasion is done so stealthily that no image of ships, Aliens or even UFOs appears, after several hours, even on a television screen in the background! Suffice to say a little frustrating for a genre series. Invasion risk of having the effect of a false advertisement to a lot of fans of SF, generating a certain weariness, over the lengths that mesh the story.

But too bad. Invasion fully accepts its bias. The idea is not to blow everything up, nor to stage shoot-outs of laser guns. It’s a series that puts everything on its characters. And they are excellent. Each of them conceals a poignant humanity, which keeps us in suspense, in this context of apocalypse which struggles to say its name. From the magnetic Franco-Iranian Golshifteh Farahani to the cowboy Sam Neill, the cast is magnificent and enveloped in a breathtaking “production value”. The image is splendid. As much as the haunting music of Max Richter which rocks each shot. It was he who had already signed the haunting melody of The Leftovers, another science fiction series, more human than fantastic …

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