Two films being released in the next two weeks deal with terrorist -- some
really alien -- germ warfare attacks resulting in apocalyptic pandemics. What
can it mean? Maybe it’s time to break out the duct tape.
One of those films, “Right at Your Door,” opens August 24 and I’ll have a
review of that film in that issue. The other, “The Invasion,” opens this
Friday, but did not screen in time for our deadline. What can that mean? I
think you know, but just in case you don’t, here’s a transcription of the review
I wrote for broadcast on WFNX.
THE INVASION [one and a half stars]
Like the alien pods at the heart of the story, adaptations of Jack Finney’s
1955 horror classic “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” take on the form of
the paranoias and indulgences of the age. For Don Siegel’s 1956 version, it was
the Red Scare. For Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake, it was the bland New Age
hedonism and conformity. Abel Ferrara’s 1993 “Body Snatchers” drew on
militarism and domestic violence. This latest incarnation also has a lot of
anxiety to work with. It opens with an exploding space shuttle (is that actual
footage of the Columbia disaster?) that spreads
an alien virus from DC to Dallas.
The government sets up an inoculation program, but are they curing or causing
the disease? People are turning into robotic, Mitt Romney lookalikes, including
psychiatrist Dr. Carol Bennell’s (Nicole Kidman) ex, who not only heads the
agency compelling people to get shots but
also wants to grab their kid. So, let’s see, there’s fear of terrorism,
of government oppression, of alien conspiracies, of menacing, estranged
husbands, of scientologists. In fact, though, the main trend “Invasion” taps into is ersatz blockbuster movie making.
Originally directed by German filmmaker Hirschbiegel, taken over by the
Wachowski Brothers when studio honchos found the result too arty, it’s riddled
with blatant plot cues and gaping narrative holes, absurd jump cuts and
gratuitous, unintentionally hilarious action sequences. “The Invasion” may look
like a movie, but it’s just another soulless copy.