In "Landscape With Invisible Hand," we're dropped into the not-too-distant future — the 2030s — and learn that aliens have invaded the planet. But these visitors from another world didn't come here to blow up our monuments "Independence Day"-style. Instead, they struck deals with greedy businessmen and politicians to essentially take over the entire planet. Now, the wealthy get to live in floating cities that drift across the sky while everyone else is stuck down on Earth.

Adam (Asante Blackk) is one of the unlucky humans still inhabiting this doomed rock, living with his mother (Tiffany Haddish) and sister (Brooklynn MacKinzie). His father (William Jackson Harper, in a far-too-small role) left for the coast years ago and never returned. Adam bides his time painting and attending a school system that has been completely taken over by the aliens known as the Vuvv. Chloe (Kylie Rogers), a new student, arrives one day and Adam is clearly smitten. So much so that he invites Chloe's homeless family — hapless father (Josh Hamilton) and bitter bother (Michael Gandolfini) — to move in with his family, much to his mother's chagrin.

The Vuvv have no concept of love, and pay good money to spy on the romantic lives of humans. Chloe gets the idea that she and Adam can start raising serious money by broadcasting their budding romance, and Adam agrees. This storyline alone probably could've been enough for the film, but writer-director Cory Finley, adapting M.T. Anderson's novel, keeps throwing new ideas at the screen. It all amounts to a series of loose threads, and while the film is often inventive and funny, those threads never really tie together.

Too Many Loose Threads

The romance between Adam and Chloe begins to fade, but they decide to keep faking it to keep that money rolling in. Unfortunately, this is a big no-no as far as the Vuvv are concerned, which opens the two of them up to all sorts of problems. And then, Chloe and he family sort of recede into the background as the story begins to go off in other directions, none of them particularly interesting enough to hold our focus.

The sci-fi world built for the film, which is a mix of the mundane and the technologically advanced, is solid and feels wholly believable, and the weird-looking Vuvv make for great mundane antagonists. There's a bureaucracy built into their invasion that proves that humanity can never escape boring red tape, even when dealing with creatures from another planet. The aliens see themselves as benevolent conquerors, but the reality is much harsher for those stuck down on Earth. There's a great little detail where we learn that the super-rich, living in their floating cities, simply dump their trash over the side and send it reigning down on the have-nots.

Blackk makes for a great protagonist, and Haddish gets some big laughs here and there, but the rest of the cast feels slightly lost, primarily because the story introduces them only to then have them fade into the background. Of the supporting players, only Gandolfini stands out as Chloe's very angry brother. Still, there's a playful inventiveness to all of this that elevates the material. It's best to go in as blind as possible because the film has a habit of introducing new things just when you think you've found your footing. "Landscape With Invisible Hand" never quite clicks, but it's not for lack of trying.

/Film Rating: 6 out of 10

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