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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2%
Worth A Look: 32%
Pretty Bad: 16%
Total Crap: 8%

6 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Invasion, The
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by Jay Seaver

"The devil's in the details."
2 stars

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is one of the stories that's worth pulling out and remaking once a generation or so; the basic theme is something we all feel even if the details of why change over time. So despite the knee-jerk reaction some might have against remakes, "The Invasion" wasn't a bad idea at the concept stage. The question is, then, just where did things start to go wrong?

Fans of the space program might say it's in the first few minutes; its images of a disintegrating space shuttle strewing debris across the country might seem to match a recent real-life disaster a little too closely. Instead of the toxic materials used in the shuttle's construction, though, the danger comes from a virus that has hitched a ride to Earth on it. Center for Disease Control investigator Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) is exposed, and after a night's sleep, he wakes up different, less ruled by his emotions and looking to share this gift.

Maybe the problem was with the leads. I generally like Nicole Kidman (playing psychiatrist Carol Bennell) and Daniel Craig (as Dr. Ben Driscoll), but they fail to click here, either singly or as a couple. There's nothing especially individual about either of them; even Carol's maternal instincts to protect her son and Ben's "I really want to be more than friends" thing are pretty standard-order. This was probably intentional, on a certain level - have the threat of transformation bring out stronger emotions while the people around them get numbed - but it doesn't quite work out that way. The two of them react well, but they're not really given characters to play, a potential disaster when the point of the story is how the virus is sapping people of their emotions and individuality.

Maybe they could have been fleshed out more if some of the time spent explaining the alien threat had been given to making Ben and Carol a little more interesting. Normally, I love getting into all the nuts and bolts, but there were times here when it got to be a little like one of those bad later-series Star Trek episodes where the solution to the problem is some meaningless string of words. It's one thing to watch Kidman ransack a pharmacy for any drugs that might help stave off sleep; hearing Carol and Ben discuss some obscure illness that might render someone immune is not exciting nuts and bolts - and that's coming from someone who generally really likes his nuts and bolts.

The balance of nuts-and-bolts to character work to metaphor seems off. Early on, it seems as though the alien takeover is going to parallel overmedication; sometimes there's dark comedy as the television news in the background tells of peace breaking out all over as the virus spreads. The movie never gets to really sink its teeth into these ideas, or give us much of an impression of Carol's backstory - why is she so concerned about her son Oliver (Jackson Bond) seeing his father again? It also turns out to be an odd match of direction and director: Early on, we see that the virus has likely been spread over a huge swath of America, and while most of the action takes place place in Washington, D.C., Carol and company do hit the road at one point. Director Oliver Hirchbiegel, on the other hand, gained international fame based on a pair of tight, claustrophobic movies (Das Experiment and Downfall). He creates some nicely paranoid moments, but doesn't really sustain them.

Of course, the final product isn't completely his; perhaps things derailed when the studio ordered reshoots supervised by by James McTeigue and the Wachowskis of V For Vendetta and Matrix fame. Supposedly, most of the changes were made to the ending, so it's unlikely that the eventual "original director's cut" will make The Invasion into a great film, but it's not hard to see how the tone shifts in the third act, as (admittedly well-staged) action displaces questions of who can be trusted, and the ending becomes nearly as pat as the one Republic Pictures grafted onto the first adaptation of The Body Snatchers fifty years ago.

That's perhaps the most amusing irony to do with this movie - fifty years pass, and Hollywood is still second-guessing its filmmakers, not just in general, but where this specific story is concerned.

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originally posted: 09/05/07 10:58:26
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User Comments

4/25/19 Dr. Lao Plays like a parody of the genre, except it’s not funny 1 stars
2/21/17 morris campbell its sux see the 56 78 94 versions instead 1 stars
5/23/11 pwhite98270 I liked it but I'm a sci-fi fan interesting government involvement 4 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 4 stars
10/06/08 Dean Rapp One car chase, that's it for action 3 stars
7/14/08 Karen Incredible movie! 5 stars
7/01/08 The Main Ingredient Expected the worst, was pleasantly suprised but nothin on the 78 version 3 stars
4/04/08 Jack Sommersby An underrated, intelligently nuanced thriller that delivers the goods. 4 stars
3/02/08 Nanci Torres I really liked Nicole, she is great. 4 stars
2/03/08 ad never expectd much from nicole, but craig could do better 2 stars
10/24/07 William Goss Latest Body Snatchers bears little resonance, less thrills than its predecessors. 3 stars
10/13/07 Ronald Newbold 1956, 1978, 1993, and 2007 - '56 and '78 are the best and closest to the book 2 stars
8/30/07 chienne Why is anyone surprised this is a dud? All Kidman's films are duds 1 stars
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  17-Aug-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Jan-2008



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