Sunday, August 19, 2007

movie minute

The IN crowd: Yes, it's the third remake of a 1956 film about aliens from another planet who take over everyday human beings and make them stolid, automated persons. One of the ultimate non-conformity-is-dangerous-to-your-health movies returns in the form of The Invasion starring a radiant Nicole Kidman and a somnambulant Daniel Craig (yes, Mr. I'm-the-new-James-Bond).

If you've seen the 1956 film or the 1978 remake or even the crappy 1993 remake of a remake (Body Snatchers), then you know the basic plot of the film. A meteor hits the earth and the material is contaminated with a foreign substance that gets into a human host and turns that human into a less interesting and less expressive form of their former self. It's very similar to The Stepford Wives (another movie that suffered an inferior remake) except the trouble comes from another planet instead of our own planet.

Nicole Kidman plays Carol Bennell (yes, this time she's a female; the males were played by Kevin McCarthy in 56 and Donald Sutherland in 78) who discovers that something is not right with one of her patients and takes a sample of the alien substance to her lover, Daniel Craig, to investigate.

The film continues as more and more people are infected, or turned, many times forcefully and by a mob, until it seems that Nicole Kidman and her son are the only two on the planet not infected. The film is very timely with the recent outbreaks of SARS, the birdflu virus, smallpox in the midwest and the looming threat of biological warfare, however, the ending is too pat; too easy; too predictable. And there's not even a twist ending like there is in the '78 version. There is one gruesome scene in which two people off themselves in order for the turned people to see who reacts with shock so that they too can be turned.

The casting of this film is interesting; Nicole Kidman seems to work as she gives it her all but Craig is sadly miscast. Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy winner and Broadway star Jeffrey Wright, however, who plays scientist Dr. Stephen Galeano, gives his performance his all and it would have been just fine if HE had been Kidman's male lead star instead of Craig. But then poor Nic would have had to kiss a black guy.

The only two things this film has going for it are its timeliness and Kidman and Wright although his role is sadly too small. One other caveat; for those of you who are squeamish, the way in which the body snatchers turn the uninfected is truly gross. Don't say I didn't warn you.

It's not a surprising invasion but it does cause some fear in the fact that what happens if a virus that cannot be contained does knock on our door.

Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 2.5
Timeliness Factor: 5

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