Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Archive: "The Invasion" (2007)

"The Invasion" is the fourth movie based on the classic science fiction novel, "The Body Snatchers," the best known of the film adaptations being 1956's "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers." This latest one is divided into two very distinct halves, both of which work just fine on their own. Whether or not the two halves entirely work together is questionable. The first half is entirely atmospheric with a sense of eerie instability and uncertainty; the second half speeds things up with terrifying chase sequences. And amongst it all, the movie tries to keep up with past adaptations by including a political statement that makes less of an impact than probably desired.

A spaceship crash lands carrying a strange alien substance on it, and thus a massive infestation of the human race begins. People are being turned into alien pods that are completely lifeless and lacking in any emotion whatsoever. Each person lacks individuality and preaches about a common cause for a better tomorrow. How a gooey alien matter, when infused with humans, wants to make the world a better place by making people automatons is beyond me. Setting aside any of those motives, this is still some creepy stuff. When a woman claims that her husband is no longer her husband, you can't help but get the chills. This feeling of nauseating dread permeates throughout the effective first half of the movie where the truth of what's happening to everybody is slowly revealed. And speaking of nausea, the pods infect others by kindly vomiting into their mouthes. Tasty!

Carol (Nicole Kidman) is a psychiatrist who is witnessing the infection firsthand through her increasingly distressed and vanishing patients. Her estranged ex-husband, Tucker, is a disease control expert who suddenly wants to be involved with their son Oliver after four years. The problem is that he is one of the pod people, and Carol soon discovers this once Oliver lovingly texts her mother claiming that his dad seems different. She enlists the help of a doctor friend, Ben (Daniel Craig), who then enlists the help of another doctor, Stephen (Jeffrey Wright), who I suppose is more equipped for the problem. And after Stephen receives a sample of the goo and proceeds to explain not only what it is, but also how it invades the body and possible ways of reversing it, it's clear that he was the man to turn to.

Once infected, the transformation into a pod doesn't occur until after a full cycle of REM sleep; while asleep, a slimy coverage of the alien goop encompasses your body and you're officially one of them. Unfortunately for Carol, she is infected and must fight to keep herself awake as she goes around the city completely emotionless because that's how you fool them. Carol is in search for her son because she discovers that he is immune, and so he is crucial for survival. There's an exceptionally eerie scene inside a rundown pharmacy where Carol downs all kinds of medication with jugs of Mountain Dew. This safe haven is blown, however, and so begins the more intense second half. There are some scary sequences including a car chase where mobs of pod people climb on top of Carol's car as she swerves and sends them all flying. The pod people move around just like everybody else until they are in frightening pursuit, but even then they are easily disposable in the same fashion as zombies.

Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig both give unspectacular yet solid performances given the limited amount of material they're left to work with. Jeffrey Wright, especially, hardly seems like himself. They get the job done, however, with a sense of urgency and stress. "The Invasion" is an effective, stylish thriller that only falters in the fact that it probably wishes it was more than just passable entertainment. There's a statement made about how Carol's role as a psychiatrist prescribing medicine to numb people's problems is equivalent to what the pod people want to accomplish. There are also countless references to Iraq and Darfur that pound the movie's political stance into place. If we are living in a world without war, violence, and poverty, we have ceased to be human.

1 comment: