Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Premise: A remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In this version, an alien virus transmitted through bodily fluids takes a hold of people’s consciousness when they fall to sleep. A psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) tries to get herself and her son (Jackson Bond) out of the city when the virus becomes an epidemic.
What Works: The Invasion features some interesting editing techniques, using jump cuts to convey the stress of the characters and cross cutting between moments of action and moments of exposition, similar to the power plant sequence in The Matrix: Reloaded, which allows the film to tell its story more economically.
What Doesn’t: While the cross cutting makes the film leaner, it also underscores the main problem with The Invasion. The picture has no sense of pacing. It slows down in the scenes that ought to be brief and runs through the moments that ought to be staged carefully. The film is so anxious to get where its going, be it car chases or on-foot pursuits through the city streets, that it reduces the dramatic build up or drops it altogether. The Invasion spends a great deal of its first act with the characters sitting around talking rather than doing anything together or separately that would develop character. As the virus spreads, the cast figures things out way too fast and make huge leaps in reasoning. At the same time, the characters explain the ins-and-outs of the alien virus using advanced scientific jargon that does not mean anything to the audience and has little relevance to the story. The characters and their relationships are stock and incomplete. There is a hint of an interesting romantic relationship between Kidman’s character and a doctor played by Daniel Craig, but it does not go anywhere. This is indicative of a larger problem of the film. The picture does not spend any time establishing what is so great about the status quo before putting it at risk of being lost. Instead, The Invasion goes the other way, characterizing human existence as violent and insufferable. As the alien virus takes over the human race, people become docile and humane to each other. To put it another way, the virus makes humanity better. This is a huge problem that the film never addresses.
Bottom Line: The Invasion is a pretty terrible picture. It’s not very scary, the exposition is confusing, and the characters are flat and uninteresting. Audiences would be better off viewing the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the remake from 1978.
Episode: #159 (September 30, 2007)