Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Movies: The Invasion

• Show no emotion and don't go to sleep.

Genres: Horror, sci-fi, remake
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Run time: 1:36
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright, Jackson Bond
Verdict: &&&1/2

On the heels of the last few years' needless glut of zombie flicks, The Invasion struggles to differentiate itself, even if the afflicted in this movie aren't flesh-eating zombies, and it is based on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a major influence on the horror and sci-fi genres. A sentient, alien virus brought to Earth by the space shuttle is infecting the populace, and the victims become calm, unemotional and robotic as they carry out the mission to infect everyone. The sales pitch? Just let go and submit to a life without war, without conflict. Psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) begins to notice things are amiss around the time a patient comes to her complaining that, "My husband is not my husband." Bennell notices strangely vacant faces lining the city streets, and the thriller begins to accelerate when she learns that her husband, whom her young son is visiting, is infected, and Bennell herself becomes infected at his hands (or rather, by the stuff he sprays out of his mouth at her). The two big rules for the survivors are show no emotion — that's what tips the bad guys off to the unconverted — and, once infected, don't go to sleep — that's when the transformation to automaton takes place. Bennell fights both urges through the rest of the movie as she attempts to rescue her son and avoid her demise in an increasingly bleak existence in which no one, on the surface, can be trusted. Some late action scenes, including one in which Bennell careens through the city in a car covered with the infected, effectively turn up the tension in a movie that offers an above-average dark entertainment for those willing to check their expectations at the door (and judging from the reviews, most people aren't). // Rent this // The 1993 remake, Body Snatchers, has always flown under the radar, but it's absolutely worth watching. It centers on a teen girl whose family has moved to a military base where her father is to investigate an environmental issue. Directed by Abel Ferrara, the movie boasted fine performances from Forest Whitaker and Meg Tilly, and the elaborate transformation scenes are excellent — far better than those in The Invasion, which almost dodges that aspect of the tale altogether.

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