Invader Zim Season One DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 8.0
Audio 7.0
Special Features   N/A
Total 8.0
Distributor: Beyond Home Entertainment
Running Time: 476 Minutes
Classification:
G
Reviewer: Andrew Proverbs

8.0


Invader Zim Season One

For a blood-thirsty alien invader, Zim seems to scream… a lot. But I suppose that’s understandable when your plans for domination are constantly being derailed by both the kid across the street and your inept robot sidekick, you’re petrified of germs and your skin burns on contact with processed meat. 

Invader Zim is the brainchild of Jhonen Vasquez, an award-winning artist and writer of alternative comics. That comic-book lineage comes through clear in the way Zim looks: the show is depicted in bright, bold colours, with highly caricatured inhabitants. The art is a blend of 2D and cel shading (which is used to great effect during the many action sequences). 

Zim is a member of the Irken race, whose goal it is to bring every known world into their empire by means of conquest. After being exiled for botching an attack in the past, Zim now returns and demands to be assigned a planet as part of a new wave of invasions. His superiors decide to send him far out of harm’s way, to Earth.

Undeterred by this seemingly pitiful use of his conquering skills, Zim sets up his base and begins the process of blending in to his new and strange environment. Along for the ride is Gir, the reject robot who seems more interested in sampling the local delights of fast food, plush toys and television than his mission of conquest. 

Over the course of the series, Zim is confronted with a slew of challenges relating to school life: How to cope with parent-teacher night, his apparent lack of friends, and his constant running battle with arch-nemesis Dib, who is determined to unmask Zim as the little green man that he so obviously is. 

The show’s writing ranges from sardonic dark humour to pure ridiculousness. As an example of the latter, in one episode Zim is afflicted with a giant pimple, caused by his proximity to greasy food. When he finds out that the pimple has hypnotic powers, he dresses it up as a doll, names it ‘Pustulio’ and sets about mesmerizing the rest of the school. It looks like the creative team behind Zim were given a mandate by Nickelodeon to let their imaginations run rampant; there are some stupidly funny moments.  

For me the highlight would have to be the voice acting, which is full of colour. Zim’s manic enthusiasm for destruction, his grand posturing and his deliciously over the top speeches never get old. And neither does Gir, the binge-eating robot with a two-second attention span. Gir’s dialogue is the funniest of the lot, because you know that absolutely anything could come out of his mouth. 

It’s not all brilliant, though. The first season consists of 36 episodes, and you would expect there to be some flat spots. Some of the jokes fly off into the stratosphere or make you cringe, and some episodes feel a lot like extra padding. 

It has to be said that this is the darkest G-rated feature I’ve seen for quite a while, both thematically and visually. While he has his endearing moments, Zim is generally a cold-hearted and despicable protagonist. In one episode he alters schoolboy Dib’s past, bit by bit, disabling him further each time. When he finally thinks he’s killed Dib he marches off to gloat, and it’s hard for us to empathise with him from then on. On the other hand the show’s human characters are usually depicted as being slow, droopy and unimaginative, and you feel like they deserve whatever vile fate Zim has in store for them. 

In Invader Zim you’ll find all the insanity, dark humour and alien action you could ever need, condensed into ten-minute bursts of mayhem. The thought of Gir beat-boxing over the school PA system still makes me smile, and probably will do for quite some time.






 
 



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