Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Invasion (2007) - Movie Review - 8/10

Don't Sleep...

After a space shuttle burns up on re-entry, it soon becomes apparent that something unusual has hitched a ride back on the wreckage. Nicole Kidman (Practical Magic, Moulin Rouge, Australia) plays a psychiatrist and single mother who starts to see changes in the people and society around her, and takes action to save herself and her son from the growing threat, in this new take on the 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'.

The Invasion is, I believe, a much better take on the original than it is given credit for. It was so maligned after its troubled production, that on first viewing I had very low expectations. Instead, I was treated to a very slick and well thought out science fiction thriller. The Body Snatcher movies have at their best, always made a comment about our society, and this version achieves that rather appropriately for our decade. Though the original 1956 version will always be my favourite, I actually think this is an improvement over the much touted 1978 version (Which does admittedly have some wonderful scenes, but overall I feel doesn't gel as well as the original or this update).

There are many who complain that it is a film of different styles, because of the switch in directors during production. Perhaps this is true, but if you didn't know this fact, I believe most viewers would simply think the director changed style with the story progression. I certainly don't think it jars in any way as badly as we've been told.

At first I was not keen on a few of the changes made to the initial premise, but these turn out to be better than anticipated. They help the film stand on its own feet, whilst not diminishing the advantages of the elements altered. It doesn't give anything away for the story, to reveal that in this version the threat takes over people like a disease, rather than simply replacing them with a near-perfect duplicate. I was worried this would diminish the level of threat, as it opens the window for an easy 'cure-all' at the finale. However, The Invasion works with this premise to excellent effect, playing even more on modern 'epidemic' fears and such.

Jeremy Northam (Enigma, Gosford Park, Cypher) plays the ex-husband with suitable menace, while Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Defiance) makes for a likeable romantic interest who doesn't lose any of his character's substance by playing second to Kidman. There is also a welcome turn from Veronica Cartwright (Alien, Witches of Eastwick, the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers) as one of Kidman's patients. Meanwhile, the score by John Ottman (Snow White A Tale Of Terror, X-Men 2, Superman Returns) is atmospheric while being unusual and off-beat, always keeping us a little off-kilter.

The shame is that it's very difficult to sell a science fiction thriller in the current market. If people aren't watching a comedy, they're usually expecting to see big-budget epic-scale effects on their cinema screens. The Invasion is an excellent paranoid thriller, and I think if you forget the negative press you may just be surprised how much you enjoy this, when given a chance.

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