Theatrical Review: The Invasion

A space shuttle landing disaster has brought an intelligent virus to the planet. This virus mixes with human DNA and changes it’s host, going from an individual mind to a collective. It doesn’t happen all at once, but the process does spread rapidly, but at first, not overtly. A psychiatrist, Carole Bennell is treating a patient who’s husband isn’t her husband any more, and quickly, Carole discovers that the rest of the world is changing around her.

The Invasion is the fourth movie to be based around Jack Finney’s novel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and it comes to us by way of German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, who’s given us a couple of really terrific movies in the past in The Experiment and Downfall. And The Invasion is certainly ambitious in both trying to be true to it’s source material but also find it’s own path as well. In my own opinion, out of the four movies, this is probably the least (I’d rank Philip Kaufman’s version as the very best- this one starred Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nimoy), but that’s not saying it’s a bad movie by any means.

It’s a short film, and it does feel heavily edited and that there might be a lot more to it than what’s presented theatrically. At the same time, it certainly didn’t feel like something that was missing anything real important, just details that could’ve fully realized it’s ideals. One main idea that the film presents, and I give it big credit for this, is that it would take something like an “alien invasion” like this for humans to truly come to terms and live in peace, that by our own nature, we can’t have a world peace. And on top of that, it doesn’t quite get in your face about it like so many Hollywood films would’ve. That in itself is really refreshing to see in a movie like this when so many want to fall back on some tired Hollywood cliches of the authority figures being the villains- this one gives a little more food for thought.

At the same time, this certainly gives out the homages as well- particularly to Kaufman’s movie- using names like Bennell and Bellicec, and even going so far as casting Veronica Cartwright (who was in Kaufman’s film) as Carole Bennell’s patient who’s afraid of her husband, and an inadvertent key to eliminating this virus.

What it loses though is the whole idea of plant pods growing humans out of them, and the very dark endings of the other films. This one is resolved a little more quickly and is considerably more optimistic, but still pensive about the idea that it’s in our own nature to be cruel to one another. I don’t necessarily mind that, but have very much preferred the dark endings of the other movies. This one is also more openly blatant about what’s happening to the world, whereas the other films were very much isolated events, but with the prospect of opening up further.

Hirschbiegel has a great cast at work here. Nicole Kidman carries the film as Bennell, and she looks fantastic and she does a great job with the part. She’s backed up with solid support talent with Daniel Craig (this movie was completed before he became James Bond), Jeffrey Wright and Jeremy Northam- all doing solid work here.

At the end though, and I am recommending this film, this doesn’t feel as complete as it could and one wonders if perhaps on DVD this might have a bigger cut coming down the road. I hope it does, but still I think this is worth seeing if your a fan of the other three Body Snatcher films- this probably won’t upset any of them as your favorite, but still it offers an interesting take on the idea nonetheless.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

19. August 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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