Starring Nicole Kidman (The Hours, The Others) and Daniel Craig (Casino Royale), among other films, The Invasion resembles previous versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in story, but not in spirit.
What is Invasion about?
A space shuttle crash lands. An extraterrestrial disease in the form of alien goo on the shuttle run amok, transforming people.
People are starting to turn zombie-like in behavior. If they go to sleep, they might wake up as unemotional alien imposters.
Psychiatrist, Carol Bennell (Kidman) and colleague, Ben Driscoll (Craig) discover the aliens’ plans. They try to warn people. They try to fend off hordes of alien imposters and try to stay awake. It is in REM sleep that this disease will strike. The real question is: Can they succeed or will they become one of the aliens?
Once again, Hollywood is pitting the wrong actress against a dangerous and threatening fighting force. Nicole Kidman is a fine actress. She’s terrific with mood swings. Can she handle an action-heroine role in the vain of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley? No way. There were times when her action scenes really took me back to scenes in Weaver’s 1986 Aliens. Compare the thrilling sequence when Ellen is driving a flaming personnel carrier down a series of a passageways with alien monsters trying to claw their way in, and then running them over in the most merciless way to a somewhat similar, less-impactful sequence in which our zombie-like alien impersonators are clamoring to get Carol in a speeding car. You’ll see similarities and differences. The biggest difference is that Weaver’s Ripley can handle herself in such a pinch, Kidman’s Bennell is just pretending.
The tone is much different than previous versions. Is it intentional? Perhaps. Is it good or is it a bad mistake on the filmmakers’ part?
The original Kevin McCarthy Invasion of the Body Snatchers referenced a time when people felt good about their neighbors; a time when people trusted one another a lot more than they would later. In such a warm and fuzzier period, sure just about everyone is going to notice significant changes in their friends and family a lot easier than they would, say 20 to 30 years down the road.
The next film with Donald Sutherland referenced a period soon after the Vietnam War, soon after cultural changes put some people on edge. Of course in such a period of new ideas, people are going to be a little more hysterical, more quick to judge. What’s the answer? Bring in the psychologists to curb or set aside your worries, allowing the invasion to be even less obvious. This recent version suggests that our society could change overnight and we might not even realize it. This could be.
I’ve noticed how our society has grown almost zombie-like and unemotional in spirit. Think about what we’ve had to deal with over the course of ten years. One traumatic event shocked us all, one man we chose to elect sends many joyous things in life into a downward spiral in a quest for justice. Can we help it if we just don’t care or react to how good or bad our days are? Can we help it if we’re consumed by our awesome HDTVs so much that we’re not capable of seeing anything but? Would we ever be able to notice changes in loved ones when they’re as emotionless as they were the day before? It’s difficult to say.
The film does play on this possibility. Could they actually not know what they’re doing in the storytelling department? Sure. A lot of filmmakers today seem to have that problem. A lot of critics have a big problem with the writer, Dave Kajganich and director, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s take on this story. Not all of these mirrored cultural references feel true in a way. I mean, c’mon! Peace and free-flowing gasoline from the Middle East?? But I was trying to stay positive and open my mind. They reference Iraq too many times. Is this war on terror or is it about alien impersonators for crying out loud? We’re eating popcorn while watching C-SPAN. Plus, after a time I didn’t feel one way or another if the principle characters turned into alien imposters or whether they beat the invaders.
See it for yourselves. I don’t know if I can really recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t want a dark, one-sided perspective on our immediate culture. This certainly isn’t for any hard-core science-fiction fans like me. See the Kevin McCarthy Invasion for its 1950s-style terror. It came perfectly at a time when people were paranoid about Communists. See the Donald Sutherland Invasion for its 1970s-style modernization. It came perfectly at a time when people were still adjusting to new life-styles and perspectives. See the 2007 Kidman Invasion for a fluffed-up and ultimately insulting take on modern life.