**1/2 (out of 5)
August 17, 2007
Nicole Kidman as CAROL BENNELL
Daniel Craig as BEN DRISCOLL
Jeremy Northam as TUCKER KAUFMAN
Jackson Bond as OLIVER
Jeffrey Wright as DR STEPHEN GALEANO
Veronica Cartwright as WENDY LENK
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
BY KEVIN CARR
Before you read this less-than-complimentary review of “The Invasion,” you need to know that I’m a tough guy to please with this film. I saw the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” when I was in grade school. Couldn’t sleep for a week after that.
When the film was remade in 1978, I begged my parents to see it, even going as far to claim my first grade teacher Mrs. Holman had assigned the class to see the film. (My parents, of course, didn’t fall for that and actually threatened to call my teacher to verify the assignment… thus squelching my life of crime.) I eventually saw the remake on television. Again, couldn’t sleep for a week.
In fact, I’m not embarrassed to say, that it wasn’t until I was in ninth grade that I could actually watch the 1978 version without having trouble sleeping that night. In short, I love the first two films made. The third, a remake in 1993, was pretty lame, with a gratuitous nude shot of Gabrielle Anwar being the only thing of value in the film.
When I heard they were remaking the film, starring Nicole Kidman with a truncated title “The Invasion,” I was kind of excited. Then I saw it was bumped into a mid-August release date, and the studio withheld screenings from local critics from this one… never a good sign.
Still, I wanted to check it out. And it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It wasn’t great, mind you. It doesn’t hold a candle to the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams. And it’s not even up to par with the original Kevin McCarthy film. Yet, it’s better than that 1993 stinker, although there’s no gratuitous nude scene of Nicole Kidman. I guess I’ll just have to rent “Eyes Wide Shut” for that.
For those unfamiliar with the Body Snatcher story, the film follows a doctor who finds herself in the midst of an alien invasion. However, instead of spaceships, the aliens are plant-based and take over our bodies, making perfect replicas. There’s only one small flaw: the replicas have no emotion. Soon, Dr. Bennell (Nicole Kidman) figures out what’s happening and goes on the run, trying to not sleep because that’s when the change occurs.
People like me, who know the story backwards and forwards, will immediately notice some differences. First, instead of having new bodies emerge from pods, these new aliens infect humans like a cold and then take over when the person sleeps. This works for and against the film. On one hand, it added a more invasive element, if you’ll pardon the pun. Once you’re infected, it’s just a matter of time before you fall asleep. The pods don’t have to be in your vicinity to take you over.
On the other hand, this softens the story a bit. One of the aspects I found so horrifying of the original films was that your body (and presumably heart, mind and soul) are turned to dust while the copy takes over your life. In this film, the people are merely infected. And this makes the story puss out. Forgive my language, but there’s no other way I can describe this.
The other difference is the film focuses more on the relationship between Dr. Bennell and her son, whom she is trying to save. Previous films hinged the tragedy on a love story angle, which is more relatable to the public. Parents like me can relate to wanting to save a child. However, everyone can relate to trying to save the love of your life.
There were rumors of reshoots and script rewrites throughout the picture, and it shows on screen. It’s clear the action was increased, an unwarranted change considering the movie devolved into a car chase when it should have been focusing on the psychological horror.
Ultimately, “The Invasion” never settles into a proper pace, racing through the introduction and escalating too quickly to only stagnate in the middle. Additionally, the film is made with too much optimism, which is a shame since “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has traditionally been one of the greatest downer films of science fiction cinema.
If you’ve never seen one of the original films, you might enjoy this one. However, fans of the 1956 or 1978 versions will find themselves preoccupied with how things were changed, and not for the better.