Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond, Jeffrey Wright, Veronica Cartwright, Josef Sommer, Celia Weston, Roger Rees, Eric Benjamin, Susan Floyd, Stephanie Berry, Alexis Raben, Adam LeFevre, Joanna Merlin
Written by: Dave Kajganich, based on the novel by Jack Finney
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and terror
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/17/2007

The Invasion (2007)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Shoddy 'Snatchers'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Every generation gets the "Body Snatchers" it deserves. Don Siegel's 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers preyed upon the fear of encroaching Communism, Philip Kaufman's superior 1978 version suggested the death of the free love era, and Abel Ferrara's underrated 1993 Body Snatchers took place in an already soulless, military-obsessed country. Oliver Hirschbiegel's newest adaptation of Jack Finney's novel is mainly about Hollywood's fear of originality, its fear of losing an audience. So it drains all the genuine terror from the story, brings the unspoken, unwritten subtext into the film's periphery and explains everything. Essentially, The Invasion has already joined the pod people collective.

Nicole Kidman stars as Carol Bennell, a Washington DC psychiatrist with an ex-husband (Jeremy Northam) who works in government, a charming son Oliver (Jackson Bond) and a doctor boyfriend (Daniel Craig). Everything's fine until her ex, acting a bit peculiar, suddenly turns up and wishes to take Oliver for the weekend. Meanwhile, one of Carol's patients (Veronica Cartwright, who was also in Kaufman's version) reports that her husband has been acting strangely as well. Before long, it's a full-blown epidemic. Television sets report that the United States government is ignoring it, calling it a flu, while other countries are apparently preparing for a full scale emergency (shades of Sicko). Later, when more and more people succumb to the alien pods, the news begins to report peace treaties all over the world.

Hirschbiegel, who received an Oscar nomination for his foreign language film Downfall, makes the alien takeover sound almost enticing, but that's because the movie has no idea how to portray the individuality that humans would lose in the deal. Kidman spends many long sequences pretending to be a pod person, her face blank, walking through crowds of people with equally blank faces. In the process, she loses the story's tension. The Invasion misses every chance to seek any new avenues -- several references to drugs go unexplored -- or even re-invent the old ones. It even does away with the famous pods and alien shrieks. Now pod people simply vomit on their victims, the victims go to sleep and that's it. Likewise, this movie will probably induce snoozing, hopefully without the vomit. The Invasion

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