Review: The Invasion
PLOT: A Washington D.C. psychiatrist suspects people are changing after the fallout of a space shuttle explosion covers the U.S. She becomes even more suspect when her ex-husband suddenly seems to be talking monotone and wanting father-son time for their child. Within, the challenge to not fall asleep as projectile vomiting and ridiculously over-the-top images suggest that an alien take over is happening. And the doctor’s son, may be the key to a cure. Hey… is that a new element I’m seeing? Sure is. But so are some laughable over the top fiery car chases.
REVIEW: There are a few intriguing ideas in the latest re-re-re-remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. The latest stars Nicole Kidman as a psychiatrist who starts to suspect things are not what they seem after a space shuttle explosion lands across the country in tiny pieces. Along with the wreckage, an alien life form attached to the spread out pieces may have caused the wreck, and it now is turning regular folk into emotionless clones of their former selves. Well, they show no emotion, unless they have to chase someone or beat down a door. Considering these folks are so peaceful, which you can see from the continued news reports where war and violence is ceasing, why do they suddenly turn into a kind of DAWN OF THE DEAD (remake) kind of zombie? As I said, many intriguing ideas surround this film but the biggest question I have is, why does a talent like Nicole Kidman do these insufferable remakes? Congratulations should go to her as she is able to a give a strong performance in a manic mess of a film.
There is so much wrong with the latest, and weakest of the Body Snatcher remakes. First of all, the subtlety is gone. If you are a character who has not been changed, there is no way that you could possibly not know what is going on. The infected folk act like they just had a lobotomy (which I suppose they sort of did) but seem to be able to find emotion when they are puking green muck into non-infected folks. And no, this has nothing to do with 28 DAYS LATER. There is one wasteful scene on a subway where we are introduced to several characters who you might think would become helpful to Ms. Kidman’s good doctor. But alas no, they are just used for a massive puking scene which is far from terrifying.
I also hated to see a good actor like Jeremy Northam is a weak performance. He is usually quite good, but here, he is not scary or even very interesting. He plays the ex-husband who wants his family back together. But his performance is not the only one that suffers. Most of the cast aside from Nicole are wasted with a dull script and overly manic direction and editing. I felt like I had ADD watching this.
The trick of playing out a scene, but revealing flashes of what is going to happen throughout, as they talk about their plans, is painfully frustrating. It felt like the filmmakers were desperate to make a more exciting film so they spliced in the other images to liven it up. I dare say, each one of the previous versions relied on a slow build and tension that made the final battle to not fall asleep very involving. This time, the images are filled with flash cuts, projectile vomiting and some situation comedy dialogue between mother and son that really spoil the suspense. The moments where we are supposed to feel fear or paranoia are replaced by laughable situations. Just check out the maid service for a convention that Jeremy Northam is hosting and you’ll see what I mean. Wasn’t that scene in CLERKS 2?
With all that said, I did find myself intrigued enough to sit through the slow moving hour and a half due to Nicole. She is lovely and as I said, manages to give a good performance in and out of her underwear. And it was also nice to see Veronica Cartwright (from the Seventies version) as a patient of the doctor who suspects something is wrong with her abusive husband… he’s not abusive anymore. She actually has a truly creepy moment with a monologue about her husband and her dog.
I also appreciated the ideas behind the film. With the War in Iraq, pharmaceutical companies controlling vaccines that fill our children with dangerous chemicals, and some other interesting ideas along the lines of, maybe being “human” is what is destroying all that we are. This film could have been terrifying. I won’t delve too much in what may have been the political ideology behind all of this, but with all that, it may have been an interesting remake. Yet there is not a single scary moment here that compares to the little boy drawing pictures in his elementary class in Abel Ferrara’s BODY SNATCHERS, or almost any moment in Philip Kaufman’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. The same could be said for the original 1956 version. Seriously Nicole… please don’t do any more remakes or movies based on T.V. shows. You are much too talented for this.
My rating 4/10 -- JimmyO