MOVIE: The Invasion (2006)

In my review of Black Horizon a couple of days ago, I mentioned there was a second total dog I saw with my Mom over the weekend, and this was it! This movie, the third (at least?) remake of the classic 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, actually starts out fairly decent — there were some moments in the first hour I found truly creepy and I’ll put up with a lot, of course, to spend two hours with Jeremy Northam and Daniel Craig. But about halfway through, I started to realize this movie was just completely lacking in any substance whatsoever, despite the fact it quite obviously wanted us to think it was extraordinarily “deep.” And it was pretty much all downhill for me from there.

It’s probably been fifteen years at least since I’ve seen the original Body Snatchers movie, so the details are mostly all gone for me (replaced by three-plus years of having to keep track of plot twists on Lost, I guess). But what I CAN tell you is that traditionally this story has something to do with the politics of the era in which it is made (or remade, as the case may be). It’s supposed to have a point — we’re supposed to take away a current events lesson from it. For example, the original was about the dangers of McCarthyism, if I remember correctly. And though I haven’t seen the two remakes that came before this one, I’ve heard they did the same thing.

This movie definitely makes an attempt to make such a point, but its attempt is almost ridiculously half-assed. It’s so half-assed, actually, that it’s really more quarter-assed. Eighth-assed, even. Eighth-assed times infinity plus one, if you want to get specific.

It’s about a psychiatrist named Carol (Nicole Kidman, being her usual boring self) who one day begins to notice bizarre changes in the people around her. It starts with her ex-husband (Northam), who shows up out the blue suddenly wanting to spend time with her son but acting really. . . weird. And from there it spreads to her patients and everybody she sees on the street (that was the creepy part for me, by the way — the people all standing together and staring at Carol with such blank expressions. Gives me the willies, that sort of thing).

Desperate to figure out what’s going on, Carol teams up with her friend Ben, a doctor (Craig), and the two of them run some tests and soon discover the epidemic is being caused by an alien parasite that spreads through vomit (p.s., gross). As Ben and Carol struggle to rescue her son from her pod-person ex-husband, they realize a few people, including the kid, appear to be immune. The plan becomes clear: if they can get Carol’s son back to their lab, they can come up with a cure and save the world! Hallelujah, humanity wins again!

But, but. . . um, Ben? You’re suddenly acting really strange, Ben. Oh nooooo! Beeeeeennnnnnnnnnn!!

Meanwhile, in the background of many scenes, we see newspaper headlines or hear radio or TV reports of various wars raging in the world. As more and more people are infected by the alien parasite, more and more of those wars begin to end. It soon becomes clear that the moral of this film is that emotion is the root of all evil. Shut down our feelings, and the world would be a perfect place.

Hmmm, sounds a little like Equilibrium, right? But while I didn’t think Equilibrium was in any way a good film, after seeing this piece of total dreck, I found myself with a new respect for it.

In Equilibrium, this same premise (emotions = bad) made a lot more sense. That is, it made no sense whatsoever, and it was extremely easy for us, the viewers, to recognize that right out of the gate. We saw very clearly the reasons WHY this was a bad idea and we were easily able to choose sides. Take away our emotions and we are freed from war, it said, but we also lose art, music, literature, and love, and that’s just not a good enough trade. Not only that, but it’s a lesson in the dangers of corrupt leadership too, something anybody who’s been paying attention since 9/11 can certainly relate to.

But in The Invasion, there are literally NO negatives to becoming a pod person whatsoever. The wars end, the people who are “invaded” are at peace and happy, and life goes on pretty much just as it always has. There’s no downside.

Not only that, I didn’t at all understand what the writers were actually trying to tell us about how we should go about achieving this happiness. Equilibrium taught us that the path to true happiness is to stop trying to bury our feelings and instead release them in creative, positive ways, right? Ways that better our society instead of damage it.

But this movie? I mean, all I could come up with was that it was trying to teach us that the path to true happiness is joining a cult and refusing to think for ourselves anymore. . .

Ohhhh, I see! It’s a movie about Republicans!!

I’m kidding, of course. In actuality, what I believe to be the case here is that the writers simply didn’t think that deeply. Instead, I picture them sitting around a table for an hour or two after being hired to work on this project and saying, “Sure, I never thought I’d be so pathetic the only job I could get would be to write the script for the THIRD remake of a movie from the 1950’s. But since I’m here. . . Anyway, I guess we better make it seem like we at least tried to make our version relevant to the modern day, so somebody work on throwing in some keywords like ‘Iraq’ and ‘Darfur’ and we’ll just hope people think our point was so brilliant it flew right over their heads. Hey, worked for Clooney in Syriana, right? Oh wait, and while we’re at it, let’s also toss in a subplot that will encourage people to stop getting flu shots, because lord knows all that stuff we keep hearing about superbugs is total bullshit, right?”

In other words, this movie really has nothing interesting to say about anything. They thought an alien flick might make them a little dough, so they threw a bunch of money at a group of popular actors, tossed in a little stab at political commentary (one that totally backfired, because I’m sure they actually thought they were being ANTI-war here), and then rolled their eyes and pressed on.

A total waste of everybody’s time, including ours. Save yourselves!

[Don’t Netflix me | Don’t Buy me]

Genre: Science Fiction
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright, Veronica Cartwright

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7 Responses to “MOVIE: The Invasion (2006)”

  1. Trip Says:

    So…next to zombie flicks, anything dealing with body snatching is my second favorite. They combine zombies AND alien invasions…and that’s as good as getting your chocolate stuck in my peanut butter.

    I still harbor a deep guilty pleasure for The Puppet Masters(1994), a wonderfully schlocky take on Heinlein’s 1951 novel. It has Donald Sutherland, it has alien slugs that control you by boring into your spinal column through your neck, a quaint Iowa heartland setting, a massive military response against the aliens that utterly fails because the invaders use children as shields…not even the President of the United States is safe…in short, it’s packed with B-movie goodness.

    I’d been wanting to see The Invasion, mostly because of the aforementioned body snatcher thing, and I like Daniel Craig. But I have to say, Nicole Kidman hasn’t been doing it for me lately…so if this flick makes Equilibrium look downright cerebral, then into the Netflix circular file it goes.

  2. megwood Says:

    Oh, I love “Puppet Masters”!! That was 1994? I keep thinking the early 90’s were just the other day, you know, but in reality, that’s frakkin’ FOURTEEN years ago.

    Good lord, I’m old.

    Anyway, I also love alien invasion movies (as well as zombie movies, of course — Trip, have you rented “The Undead” yet? And are you planning to see the new Romero?). But I didn’t find much of anything worth enjoying about this one. It’s not bad enough to be good, it’s only bad enough to be bad. That doesn’t make for much fun, really.

    Oops, by the way, I just noticed somehow the comment setting got changed to require an email to post a comment — I hate that. It’s turned off again now.

  3. Trip Says:

    Of course I plan on seeing Diary of the Dead – from the way the trailer looks, it seems to be zombies vs. YouTube…how can you go wrong with that? Seems to be incorporating a lot of elements from Cloverfield in it, which I really enjoyed as well. I’d much rather watch the world end from a shaky and sweaty first-person perspective – it’s much creepier that way.

    If by Undead you mean the Australian zombie movie from 2003, then no – I haven’t seen that one, and yes, it’s already up in my Netflix queue. It has to wait for Gone Baby Gone, though.

  4. megwood Says:

    I just saw Gone Baby Gone last weekend, so should be getting a review up for that one in another day or so. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on it once you’ve seen it!

    Glad to hear you liked Cloverfield — I’m looking forward to seeing that one. Will have to wait for DVD, though, as the husband doesn’t do hand-held camera movies ever since nearly losing his dinner during Blair Witch Project. Whoops! 🙂

  5. Melinda Says:

    Hmmm, ya know, that whole “emotion gone” thing you’re describing as presented in Invasion sounds eerily similar to a short story/novella by some guy in the 1950s or so whose name (author or title) I CANNOT for the life of me remember. GAH! It involves perfect robots designed to end war and human suffering and winds up posing the same question at the end, but in a much more interesting way, judging from this review. *mutters under breath* If I remember the title or can find it at the liberry I’ll let you know, you might enjoy it, I hope… or I’ll look like a doofus!

  6. megwood Says:

    Are you thinking of Asimov’s “I Robot”?

  7. Melinda Says:

    Nooooo, it wasn’t “I Robot.” *looks pensive and does ridiculously exhaustive search through library records* AH HA! It was “Humanoids” by Jack Williamson.

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