From the moment it begins, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus knows exactly what it wants to be. Despite the fact that the Nickelodeon television show went off the air in 2006, there’s no attempt to wallow in its own puddle of nostalgia, splorching around for all to see, nor is there any real introduction to what “Invader Zim” even is. It just… exists. And it’s back, and here it is for you to enjoy or not.
Which is basically the perfect way to deal with having been gone for over 10 years. You’re either totally on board with the hijinks of Zim, GIR, Dib, and the rest, or you’re not. Within five minutes, new viewers should know whether they’ll stick around, and old viewers already know they will. Despite the time gap, which is explained in typical Zim fashion within the movie as him having been waiting in the actual, literal toilet for Dib to become weak and easy to defeat, the movie acts as if nothing has changed and essentially plays out like a much-longer episode of the television series -- which is the highest compliment I can give.
Because it’s so focused on moving forward and covering new ground rather than rehashing the past, it should come as no surprise that the film is rather conservative with its callbacks and cameos. The usual main crew make appearances, as do a couple of tertiary characters like Bloaty, the disgusting mascot of Bloaty’s Pizza Hog, but that’s about it. If there’s a character in the film, they’re serving a distinct, deliberate purpose within its fiction, even if that purpose is to be beaten by The Tallest for no good reason.
It’s by no means perfect, with some sections dragging on a little longer than necessary in addition to the fact that the beginning takes some time to gain momentum, but it’s better than one might expect such a revival to be, especially after seeing what Nick’s done previously with similar shows. There’s even an absolutely wild, unexpected sequence near the end of the film that I won’t spoil here that almost bumped up my rating by a whole number.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus should really set the parameters for all returning Nickelodeon shows going forward. It’s almost entirely self-contained, with little to no prior knowledge required, and manages to invoke what was amazing about the original show without kneeling at the altar of nostalgia. It’s just a new, good Zim story that happened to release on Netflix rather than Nickelodeon itself.
In a world where pop culture franchises are continuously remade, rebooted, or revived in order to milk them for all they’re worth, Enter the Florpus makes a solid argument for its own existence by being a fresh continuation of what came before rather than a stale time capsule full of expired goods. Also, it prominently features Minimoose, which is immediately a point in its favor.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is now available to stream on Netflix. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the special right here.