Duct tape, you sucker

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.

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