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2/7/08

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The Invasion of the Body Snatchers in all its incarnations is one of my favorite sci-fi stories. I remember seeing the original on TV when I was a kid, it left a large impression on me, because it was the first time I'd ever seen a movie where the good guys lost. The 2nd one is also very good. The third one, made during the 90's;The Body Snatchers is good cheesy fun. The idea of our loved ones being taken over by something alien, their body still being there, but their mind belonging to somebody else, is a wonderful plot device; and it seems worthwhile to remake every 10 years or so, because there are constantly new generational themes you can attach to it.


In our age of terrorism and fear of disease, it only made sense for the filmmakers of The Invasion to bring those ideas into the fold. This time around, the body snatching affects are passed on by alien germs, brought to earth by a space shuttle exploded in the atmosphere. Instead of pods growing whole new bodies, it takes over like a nasty disease, after a night of morphing you wake up as an alien pawn.


Nicole Kidman is Carol, a psychologist and mother, whose ex-husband, a NASA spokesman is one of those first infected. When he suddenly has an interest in seeing their young son, after being absent for a while, she's suspicious, but obviously has no clue as to his true intentions. Her first touches with the new world reality come when one of her patients claims that her husband, isn't her husband. She blows it off at first, but after some online investigation, sees that this woman isn't alone in her feelings. She starts to notice people changing too, and has to get her son back immediately. Too the rescue comes handsome Dr. Ben, played by the always cool Daniel Craig.

They run around Washington D.C. while the whole world starts to fall apart around them. It's really fun to watch in the background for signs of weirdness, it's subtle at first, then begins to get more pronounced, and soon it's completely obvious that the aliens are in the majority. They have a bit of a twist in this version, by having the virus attack those in command first, so citizens will listen to the politicians and cops when told what to do. Eventually it's just Carol and her son running around in a constant state of fear, made worse by the fact, that she can't fall asleep because she fears she's infected.

The ending wraps up a little too neatly, my only major complaint with the film. But with it, comes some interesting questions. As the aliens are taking over, you'll see on the news, talks of peace treaties in the Middle East and hear from the aliens themselves about how everything is so much clearer. One of the new twists in this version, is that once you're taken over, you retain your memories and some of your personality, so family units stay intact; but mankind has one greater purpose, leading to world-wide peace and probably a better chance of survival. So what's the better option?

Directed by German Oliver Hirschbiegel, in his first English language film, builds the suspense and terror subtlety, he doesn't jam the idea down your throat, lets it wash over you. I heard that the Wachowski Brothers stepped in at the end, to direct some action scenes to sell the film better; but it really didn't need it. This film works better as a think piece and I believe that's probably why it was such a bomb at the box office. While not a classic, I'd place it third among the Invasion films; the quality of the filmmaking is much higher here than the usual brainless sci-fi/action films, and it'll leave you with some ideas to ponder.


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