The Invasion (2007)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers seems to have survived the test of time.  Jack Finney's original novel, simply titled The Body Snatchers, remains a creepy classic to this day.  And, while the novel largely worked the paranoia of people becoming slaves to routine and losing touch with their humanity, the resulting 1950s sci-fi classic used the aliens as a stand-in for America's fear of communist infiltrators during the Cold War.

The movie got a big-budget remake in 1978 and, while it didn't have the same impact as the original, it still has that nice bit of '70s nastiness that makes it enjoyable.  Too bad Abel Ferrara's 1993 version fell flat.

Thinking it was time to bring it back again, David Kajganich was hired to write a script and up and coming German director Oliver Hirschbiegel was set to direct.  Nicole Kidman got the lead, and a then not-so-well-known British actor named Daniel Craig got the supporting role.  The ideas that Kajganich came up with were different enough that the whole "body snatcher" idea was dropped.

A NASA space shuttle called Patriot crashes on an unscheduled re-entry, scattering pieces across the American heartland.  Examination of the pieces shows traces of an extraterrestrial virus that somehow attached itself to the ship and survived not only space, but re-entry through the atmosphere.  Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam), an investigator for the Center for Disease Control, comes in contact with the virus, as do various others.

Soon, there are rumors of a flu going around, and people are lining up to get vaccines.  What psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Kidman) notices is that people are acting strangely.  Patients are reporting that their spouses are not their spouses, while authority figures seem to be rounding up civilians.  She soon has the same reservations about Tucker, who is her ex, and begins to fear the worst as their son Oliver (Jackson Bond) is staying with him for the weekend.

Along with her best friend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig) and his colleague Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), they began to get more information on the virus, as well as discovering that some people may be immune.  It turns out that they are infected by liquids or bodily fluid contact, and the virus rearranges their DNA as they sleep, changing people into an emotionless collective.

Due to her resistance, Bennell becomes a target, as does her son and everyone else that is immune.  Her only hope is to make it to the safety of Fort Dietrich, where experiments on a vaccine are taking place.

The Invasion is still the same old body snatchers movie as before, even using some of the same names in places.  The only difference is that it is a virus instead of seed pods.  I am glad that they still gave Jack Finney credit for the novel at the end, because the differences are largely superficial.  While character development, or characters worth caring about, are largely non-existent, it does manage to convey some of the creepier moments of the 1978 version.

I also give it credit for using many practical effects and stunts.  In contrast, when CGI is used, it looks like they hired someone to throw it together over a weekend.  I know the movie is a decade old, but there was decent CGI back then.  This isn't it.  The shuttle crash is horribly filmed, as are any scenes involving the helicopter in the air.  It makes one wonder where the 80 million dollars it cost to make this movie went, when there have been better productions for a quarter of that amount.

While about a quarter of the budget went to pay Kidman's salary (despite her phoned-in performance), another 10 million went to reshoot everything the studio didn't like, bringing in the Wachowskis and a second director.  Thus, we leave what little tension there was in the movie behind as we rush toward a tacked-on Hollywood style happy ending. 

I don't hate this version, but that doesn't really mean much.  If it was campy or outrageously bad then there would be at least something to enjoy.  Instead, it is a rather blah frankenfilm that I can't even say would have been better if the studio had left it alone.  The editing, the flashbacks and flashforwards, and the general direction make me wonder why Hirschbiegel was such a prize choice to begin with.  In the end, The Invasion was a colossal waste of time and money for everyone. 

The Invasion (2007)
Time: 99 minutes
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel


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