Too Many Invasions

Another remake falls short, again Remakes Gone Wild

Movie Guru

by Lisa Slade

There are only a few reasons to remake a movie, if the original was successful. The first, and most excusable, reason to recreate a film is if there's been a major technological advance that will make the story better, clearer, or more interesting.

The second, and least excusable, is to make more money off the same    tired storyline.

It should be pretty obvious which camp The Invasion falls into. It's the fourth film based on Jack Finney's 1955 novel, and it's following the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers , and the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the 1993 Body Snatchers . The 1956 version was delightfully creepy. It would have been enough.

But Hollywood doesn't understand the concept of enoughâ"just look at the horde of sequels, prequels, and thirds that have filled the theaters all summer longâ"so now we have the 2007 version, complete with a blockbuster cast (including Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig), a lame political message, and enough car chases to make you think this might be another The Fast and the Furious sequel.

Kidman's character, Carol Bennell, claims to be a â“postmodern feminist,â” but she's also a psychiatrist who medicates everyone around her, including her patients and her son. She's a divorcee and single mother with few friends, but seems to take everything that comes at her with such a happy-go-lucky attitude that you have to wonder if she's been slipping herself some of the pills she's been prescribing everyone else. Her â“best friendâ” Ben Driscoll, played by Daniel Craig, could be a case study in sexual repression. He's allegedly a brilliant scientist, but is content to remain just-friends with Bennell despite all the flirting, late night calls, and drunken innuendo she spews upon him constantly.

This pseudo-happy world is eventually disturbed. The premise behind all the Invasion films is simple, but provides ample fodder for scares if used intelligently. An alien virus infects people with an unusual disease. It renders them emotionless drones. They're unfeeling and robotic, but apparently content, and they possess a desire to infect everyone around them. Once a victim is infected, he or she won't show signs until falling asleep. The way the infected spread this flu-like epidemic is laughable and disgusting: They projectile vomit into the faces of the healthy.

A space shuttle crashes, full of this alien virus, and people are rapidly contaminated. Among those infected is Bennell's ex-husband, who randomly reappears with a desire to see his son. And here's where the lapses in logic begin. Bennell lets her son stay with his father. Of course, the father disappears with the son, which would be bad enough, but it turns out that the son is, conveniently, immune to the disease. Bennell and Driscoll must find him. Why? To save the world. Cue the car chases.

What makes The Invasion even more offensive than another F and F is the constant insistence that this is a real movie, with real substance, and you best take it seriously, dammit. The politics are forced, contrived, and only leave the viewer feeling defensive, even if you happen to agree with what they're saying. There are quotes like, â“You give people pills to make their lives better. How is that any different from what we're doing?â” There are frequent mentions of Iraq, but never with any depth. We're also blessed with debates so shallow as to make even a Psych 101 professor want to jump from a tall building.

The best thing one can say about Nicole Kidman in this particular film is that she's good at making her face look frozen. She's also skilled at running in high heels. It's a shame, because if you've seen her in superior movies, The Hours being just one example, you know she's better than this.

As is Craig. Remember him in Munich ? How he ended up in this disaster is a bigger mystery than anything the characters face in the film. It's not scary, it's only mildly entertaining, and while there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your life, The Invasion certainly isn't forging any new ground.  

But keep your fingers crossed. Maybe the 2015 version will be better.

Movie Guru Rating:

Video a-Go-Go

Shia LaBeouf, the hapless highschooler who so recently tried his action chops in Transformers , looks like a dork. And as a result, he plays dorks. The only difference is that he gets thrown into situations that are pretty rad, like hanging out with giant robots from space or, as is the case in Disturbia , investigating the creepy neighbor while under house arrest.

Yes, Kale (LaBeouf) is a troubled teen. The movie opens with one of those feelgood sequences that can't end in anything other than disaster. Kale and his dad, after mucho bonding during a fishing trip, are driving back to their quaint little house in the suburbs when, all of a sudden, they are involved in a brutal accident, leaving the father dead, only moments after they had shared such a sweet father-son moment. One year later, the morose Kale is sentenced to a three-month house arrest after assaulting his Spanish teacher.

Kale is stuck at home, and to make matters worse, his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss of Matrix fame) cuts off his subscriptions to iTunes and Xbox Live. So, like any good high school delinquent, he starts to spy on his neighbors using high-powered binoculars and a video camera that just happens to be equipped with a crude nightvision lens. Both of those he just happened to have lying around his bedroom. We get a loose reinterpretation of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window . This time, however, the ladies are much hotter, and the girl next door, Ashley (played by the lovely model-cum-actress Sarah Roemer), likes to prance around in a two-piece, giving Kale's little libido some much-needed stimuli.

Disturbia , as it slogs along in an attempt to build toward some kind of thrilling tableaux, becomes a terrible pastiche, a clunky collection of horrors that might be shocking if they weren't assembled at haphazard. Disturbia is accidental parody. â" Kevin Crowe


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