An alien invasion is what takes place in the sci-fi satire Landscape With Invisible Hand, but instead of warfare, they screw the world’s economy. From director Cory Finley, the story is based on M.T. Anderson’s novel and does a different take on the traditional aliens taking over Earth. The movie shows a future where an alien race has come to Earth, giving them resources and technology beyond their wildest dreams, but only to the wealthy. Landscape With Invisible Hand is not about the invasion itself but what comes after as capitalism takes over and how the rest of the world is coping with this new normal struggling to survive in a messed up economy caused by these extraterrestrials.
Landscape With Invisible Hand follows during the aftermath of the arrival of the Vuvv, a highly advanced species that aren’t deadly but somehow harmless to the naked eye. They communicate with their hands and have taken over all aspects of life on Earth. The rich can only thrive in this new world created by the Vuvv through their advanced technology as they live in the skies of a hovering city. However, the rest of the population lives on the ground, barely surviving. It’s pretty much the rich against the poor in this scenario as capitalism seems to be the main course. Everything from human history to academics is being replaced by the Vuvv’s lifestyle and culture that humans have to adhere to.
Much of the story focuses on Adam (Asante Blackk), a high school student striving to become an aspiring artist. The history of the Vuvv’s descent on Earth is told through Adam’s illustrations, which provide a backstory into the film’s setting. He strikes up a friendship with a new student named Chloe (Kylie Rogers), whose family struggles to get by. Without a place to stay, Adam offers Chloe and her family to live with his family in their basement. Adam and Chloe soon fall for each other and hatch a plan to live stream their dating life to the Vuuv to make some cash to support their families. However, their plan ends up taking over their lives as they make their relationship public and creates some tension between the both of them.
Landscape With Invisible Hand does well in putting a worst-case scenario where these aliens have taken over every aspect of human civilization. We see adults trying to find whatever job is available, even if it’s beneath them and the kids are taking advantage of whatever junk falls out of the sky from these big ships to see if it’s worth selling. It paints a picture of how the world has changed since the Vuvv arrived on Earth, making on-demand jobs like doctor or lawyer seem irrelevant thanks to the power that these aliens have. It is a weird analogy to how the rich and the poor co-exist with one another and get up the ladder of the social class to get by.
The film’s story can be a little hard to follow at times and often may lose the audience. Finley tackles different themes in the film, which does make it difficult to follow the story. However, Finley does a good job of helping the audience understand the new normal that these characters are adapting to. Adam and Chloe get sued by the Vuvvs for not making their relationship authentic, creating some funny scenes with the characters. It especially gets hilarious with Tiffany Haddish, who plays Adam’s mother who tries to get her family out of their legal mess with the Vuvv. Rather than portraying these aliens as malevolent forces destroying human lives, they are more like inconveniences that act more like royalty with the humans being more like their subjects. It would’ve been better had they been more like offscreen characters rather than being shown their alien life forms. The movie does tend to be on the low-budget side, seeing as to how much of the CGI is used to make the Vuvv more like cooked turkeys.
Landscape With Invisible Hand has a great concept that is filled with interesting characters that audiences can relate to. It does struggle in the second half once the story goes in a different direction, but the world that its building continues to become much more interesting. Landscape With Invisible Hand might be one of those films that will possibly have a cult following due to its rich worldbuilding and how it relates to these times of uncertainty with the world filled with billionaires and those just getting by. It’s an alien film that has its heart in the right place and teaches what humanity truly is.