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August 20, 2007

The Invasion

the invasion 1.jpg

Oliver Hirschbiegel and James McTeigue - 2007
Warner Brothers 35mm Film

The best moment in The Invasion is right at the beginning when we see Nicole Kidman, struggling to stay awake, grabbing a bunch of pills, followed by guzzling Mountain Dew straight from a one liter bottle. That one image may be all that is memorable about this fourth film version of Jack Finney's story.

It's not that The Invasion is bad, but that it is ultimately less interesting than the three films that came earlier. The basic concept may have seemed ripe for a remake of some kind for the post 9/11 age. At a time when there is all sorts or serveillance on the streets and in the work place, and demands of rigidity from different political, religious and cultural spectrums, the story of an alien invasion that results in mass conformity would seem to have contemporary resonance. What may ultimately hurt The Invasion in the long run is that the film is too specific in its references to Iraq, Darfur, George W. Bush and Hugo Chavez. One reason why Don Siegel's original film version has remained popular is probably due to the film being subject to wider range of interpretation. Philip Kaufman knew he could't escape the comparison with Siegel's version but brought a few twists of his own. Abel Ferrera in turn blended the best elements of Siegel and Kaufman, making his version less of a remake than something of a continuation of the story.

One major change in this new version is that the alien invasion is spread largely through people spewing on each other. By comparison, the scenes of Kevin McCarthy and Carolyn Jones discovering giant pods with their soulless twin selves verges on visual poetry. The new version also tries too hard to give a scientific explanation for the invasion, as well as resolving the film with a cure, diminishing the sense of mystery and helplessness that informed the previous films. As The Invasion underwent reshooting with an uncredited John McTeigue replacing Oliver Hirschbiegel, and the Wachowski Brothers doing some rewriting, there may be questions about what was changed in the course of production. There are a couple of scenes with frenetic cross-cutting of Nicole Kidman in flight at two different moments. The sense is less of intensifying the pace of the film than of a desperate disguise of discarded or unfilmed footage.

Also disturbing is that none of the actors in The Invasion are in any way as vivid as in the earlier versions. Nothing can match Kevin McCarthy's growing paranoia and hysteria, but nothing in The Invasion compares to Donald Sutherland's impish sense of humor in the 1978 version, or Meg Tilly's cool menace is the 1990 version. After such films as Fur and Birth, Nicole Kidman's performance is adequate, but will probably seem like a time filler between more interesting films and performances where more serious demands bring out the best in her. Daniel Craig virtually recedes into the scenery as if the guy who grabbed our attention as James Bond was a long ago memory. Jeffrey Wright, as the doctor who comes up with the cure, manages to make something of his relatively small role. While Wright saves the world in The Invasion, his performance is not enough to save the film.

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Posted by peter at August 20, 2007 10:12 AM

Comments

In spite of my love for the film and its versions, I've been in absolutely no hurry to see this one. The reviews have been mostly awful.

Posted by: tuwa at August 20, 2007 05:04 PM

The invasion move is really good!
also a kind of funny when they trying not to fall asleep

Posted by: jan at February 29, 2008 09:47 AM

What the heck?
I am very offended. This is one of my most favourite movies. It's amazing! I loved Nicole Kidman in this one! I'd watched one version of the Invasion before, and was dissapointed by how it didnt match up to the 2007 one's great standards. I thought it was intense all the way through -I love the part when she has to keep calm, even though she's scared to death on the inside.
it really got me thinking and inspired me for a story -overall i was very impressed. I'm not sure why they were thinking this...
they have to look at it from the storyline and the acting perspective, not the angle the camera's were shooting at or the lighting or whatever.
My standards are very high for movies

Posted by: Natasha at March 10, 2009 06:50 PM