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Movie Review: The Invasion

The Invasion
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Written by Dave Kajganich based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
Warner Bros.

And with an assist from the Wachowski Brothers I hear.  This movie was supposed to come out last year, but it got reshoots after it tested badly.

The creepy nature of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is that the aliens take the human form and are hard to detect, except for their affectless demeanor and monotone.  It’s always been a small-town kind of story, easy to glean the political or social commentary, much like a zombie movie.  The Invasion tries to force the subtext into the text, without much of a payoff.

There is strife all around the world (Iraq, Darfur, etc.), and then some alien organism hits the ground and starts possessing people.  The first is Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam), a government agent.  He was once married to psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman…what would Tom Cruise say?), and had a son Oliver (Jackson Bond).  He starts calling her after a long hiatus, wanting to see the boy.  He’s not the only one acting strangely.  It seems some “strange flu” is hitting America in a big way.  Of course, we all know it’s no flu.

Joining Carol in the figuring-out of goings-on is Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig), a could-be future husband who is a doctor, and scientist Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright).  The aliens want to convert everyone, because they are a peaceful lot even though they don’t feel anything.  And lots of chasing happens, and close scrapes, and whatever you can expect.  The movie then tries to be much more than it is by asking, “How will violence in the world ever stop?” and then answers, “When we stop being human.”

So there’s that defeatist argument that probably could have been developed better into the plot, and the action is very ho-hum.  A movie like Invasion of the Body Snatchers was never meant to be high-minded, high-gloss sci-fi/horror fare, so it should come as no surprise that the less-than-mild thrills of the latest incarnation comes off incredibly ordinary.  The movie gets downright bad when a good actor like Jeffrey Wright plays the dreaded Psycho psychologist role in the end: explaining lots of stuff that doesn’t need explaining.

Plus, we’ve seen so many aliens come down to Earth and not do enough research about human beings.  I guess there has to be a weakness somewhere, but these guys can travel through space and can’t even think of stuff like germs (War of the Worlds) or a computer virus (Independence Day).  Geez.

The trailer was creepy; this has no mood other than exhaustion.


Comment from Jonathan
Time: August 17, 2007, 12:52 pm

I have not only liked, but pretty much loved all three versions of “Body Snatchers” including that 1993 version with Gabrielle Anwar running around naked (I think three theaters in Texas got to enjoy it before it went straight to video). But I had a feeling my affection would end with this one. The preview really didn’t wow me, and the fact that they’re bringing in new directors and writers at the last second and bumping the release date back a year is rarely a good sign. Joel Silver should be shot, or o.d. or something. Sounds about like I expected.

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