‘Bout time. The left has been waiting for another Teachable Moment like this for 30 years; what better way to teach it than with a little light, Pixar-ish family fare? It started as a short in 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, and now it’s gone feature length. Says the director:
I watched these [old] alien films and found it extremely simplistic that these aliens are just out to get us. In many cases they’re allegories for the Red Threat and so on, but I always thought you could add a layer or two to that and then I thought how interesting it would be if you could give the aliens as much of a character and as much sympathy and complexity as we do for the humans. And then I thought I’d want to do an alien invasion film, but completely turn it on its head. I found that a lot of the aliens in these other films exhibit behavior which humans exhibit in history, particularly humanity’s tendency to dominate and occupy. In light of recent events too and tendencies in several First World nations, not just the United States, it feels as though we are the ones who are following the patterns of the ‘invading aliens.’ So I figured lets turn it around and make the point of view through the aliens and make the invaders us.
That was the plot of virtually every “alien invasion” episode of the Twilight Zone, from “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” where aliens conquer earth by stirring up people’s prejudices until they’re at each other’s throats, to “The Invaders,” which is a direct analog to this flick. (“To Serve Man” is a notable exception.) So famous was Rod Serling for “we’re the real enemy” sci fi that the producers of what would become the ultimate example of the genre sought him out to write the screenplay for it. He’d be doing a celebrity nudge-wink voice cameo in this movie if he was alive today.
Anyway, I do like the title pun, which alludes of course to Bush’s oft-mocked pronunciation of “terror.” Doubtless one of the characters will cleverly exclaim at some point, “They’ve declared a war on Terra!” (which would actually have a third meaning to lefties in the know) just to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Exit question: Just how idyllic will the depiction of the pastoral utopian salamander paradise be? Somewhat restrained, or the full nine kite-flying yards?