Duncan Barrett on the latest Greenpeace short

Eddie Izzard’s transition from stand-up comic to serious actor has been a long one, but anyone who saw the likes of Shadow of the Vampire or The Revenger’s Tragedy will be aware of the charm and sense of fun that he can bring to a film.

What you may not know is that if you head down to the cinema any time over the next month or so, you might get to see a bit of Izzard when you least expect it. ‘Alien Invasion’ is a short film that will be trailering before many new releases in November. It’s been produced by Greenpeace with American company Hungry Man to raise awareness of ecological issues.

Izzard plays Brik, a laconic, cynical alien who thinks earth’s not worth the cost of invasion. Set against him is the idealist Zarg, played by Scottish actor Joe McFadden, who believes humans should be given the chance to prove themselves. Their leader Robin, an apathetic pen-pusher, is played by Jim Broadbent.

The three argue over the relative merits and failures of earth, trying to decide whether its worth their attention. Obviously, in some ways this is little more than a glorified advert.

The message of the film is pretty obvious, and indeed it ends with a series of injunctions to the ‘armchair activists’ that Greenpeace are targeting, offering ways that they can plausibly make a difference: ‘Don’t buy Esso’, ‘Insist on GM-free foods’, ‘Use low energy lightbulbs’ and so on.

But Greenpeace are very keen to stress that Alien Invasion is a legitimate short film in its own right: entertaining, artistically credible and stylishly acted and produced. And in many ways their investment has payed off – the film is witty, effective and entertaining.

Izzard and Broadbent are very funny as the cynical, laid-back aliens and McFadden rather sweet as the young idealist. Anyone who’s seen the brilliant Orange adverts with Carrie Fisher and Roy Scheider recently will have an idea of what’s in store for them. Being a charitable endeavour, the film was made on literally no budget.

All those involved devoted their time and resources to the project, shot over two days, with many hours of special effects work added afterwards. The result is a fun piece of short-filmmaking as well as effective ecological propaganda – and if this goes any way to encourage future projects of the kind, it’s undoubtedly an excellent idea.

You can watch the ad HERE.