Aliens have been invading our planet in creative ways all throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty first century. It sounds like a clear cut case of assuming the worst about life forms we haven’t even met yet. For the fourth time on film, we get a variation on the Jack Finney novel, ‘The Body Snatchers.’ This time, it’s only called ‘The Invasion.’
An American space shuttle crashes to Earth, bringing with it a fungal alien being. This quickly infects people at the crash site and begins to spread like a virus, infecting a member of the CDC, Tucker (Jeremy Northam). Tucker’s ex-wife Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a psychiatrist begins to notice that people around her are beginning to act strangely listless. Her patients begin to report odd, sometimes violent behavior from loved ones and it’s only getting worse. She begins to fear for the safety of her son, Oliver (Jackson Bond) as the news reports the spread of some type of flu.
It doesn’t take long for Carol to witness firsthand that this isn’t the flu, it’s an alien invasion. With the help of some scientists and her man-friend, Ben (Daniel Craig), she tries to find safety and for some way to fight back.
First of all, the script is terrible. Rumor has it, the Wachowski Brothers rewrote credited writer David Kajganich’s script to add more action. There are other minor problems. Plugging in overly generalized statements into a search engine. That’s one way to go, if you want to be inefficient on the internet. It does the job in the movie, though Carol’s voice over repeating what she types and the needless flashbacks to scenes we have already seen do the trick as well. All of this is only acceptable if you want to charge at the material like a neanderthal. Clunky dialog is another sticking point.
This updated version of the story differentiates itself from the original ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ by being timely. There is ample talk about American involvement in wars, natural disasters and other political hot button issues of a few years ago. It’s an attempt to paint humans as being deeply flawed creatures (no argument here) and forcing the viewer to ponder whether it would be so bad to be taken over by beings that are allegedly incapable of such atrocities.
The invasion itself is also treated like a disease that is spread via vomit. Remember those tasteful pods of yore? Long gone, my friends. Instead, these insidious invaders spit in peoples’ drinks. Nice. The only semi-respectable touch is that Carol’s main dilemma eventually becomes her struggle to avoid sleep which triggers the ‘takeover’ within the body. A halfway decent chase scene happens very late in the film which is an awfully long time to wait for some real excitement to emerge. After this happens, though, get ready for a montage that lazily wraps up the loose ends and mercifully put an end to the story.
The performances are blah across the board. Case in point: it’s hard to tell whether many of the peripheral characters are possessed by the aliens or whether they are just under-emoting. There is a lot of each going on. Kidman does what she does and that rarely involves elevating the material she is given, though she is one of the few actors in the film that actually seems to be trying.
Special features include: a documentary on the history of ‘The Body Snatchers’ throughout media, and three featurettes.
If you really have to see a movie like this, you’re better off watching the late 70’s, Donald Sutherland version of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ That had a lot of cool stuff going on in it. ‘The Invasion’ doesn’t.
Rated PG-13 99 minutes 2007
‘The Invasion’ is available to rent/purchase in Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, and beyond.