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The Invasion (2007)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 1/29/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio:
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/27/2008

Here's a good question to which I don't have the answer: What book has been adapted to the big screen the most number of times? Is it something like The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo? What about Frankenstein? When author Jack Finney wrote the novel The Body Snatchers in 1955, he probably wasn't surprised when it was made into a film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the following year. But, what was his reaction to the fact that there were two more films based on his book in his lifetime (he died in 1995). Now, over a half-century since the book was published, we get the fourth adaptation to film, The Invasion.

As The Invasion opens, we witness the Space Shuttle Patriot break apart as it enter the Earth's atmosphere. (The footage bears a chilling resemblance to the falling debris from Space Shuttle Columbia.) The debris is collected and found to contain a mysterious spore-like substance. Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) of the CDC is on-hand to examine the wreckage and comes in contact with the substance. We are then introduced to Kaufman's ex-wife, Dr. Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman), a psychiatrist who works in Washington, D.C. After an extremely odd session with a patient who claimed that her husband had changed, Carol takes her son, Oliver (Jackson Bond), Trick-or-Treating and they find that some of the candy is covered in what looks like skin. She take this to her colleague, Dr. Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig), who discovers that the organism is alive. Meanwhile, Carol begins to notice more and more people around her acting very strange and showing no emotion. Kaufman suddenly calls and invokes his visitation rights. After Carol takes Oliver to Kaufman's, she begins to become very suspicious of the CDC's new inoculation campaign. Is it related to the organism and the emotionless people. Fearing that Oliver may be in danger, Carol races to rescue him, but finds that there are many people trying to stop her.

If thereís one thing which can be said about the series of films based on The Body Snatchers, itís that each one has tweaked the formula and although each of the movies deal with the same central plot, they are all unique. Also, it must be pointed out that each of the movies reflect the time period in which they were made. Thus, kudos must go to screenwriter Dave Kajganich for bringing some distinctive ideas to this new version of the story. By far the best plot device in The Invasion is that characters take the threat seriously and actually attempt to do something about it. By the 38-minute mark, the main characters have identified the alien organism and not long after that, they see witness a transformation take place. Finally! A movie where the characters are smart enough to notice the peculiar things happening around them and they make an active effort to fight back. In a similar vein, the aliens are also very organized and we witness some ingenious ways in which they spread their spores. The story also places a great emphasis on the fact that the transformation takes place while one is asleep and makes this part of the plot.

Wow! The humans know what theyíre up against (for once), the aliens are organized, and thereís a race against time -- this must be one exciting movie. Unfortunately, it isnít. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel made the impressive Das Experiment, but his English-language debut leaves much to be desired. Not unlike the alien invaders in the movie, The Invasion is oddly devoid of emotion. There are several scenes where the characters are discussing very important facts, and they sound like newscasters reading a tele-prompter. The action scenes in the movie donít elicit any excitement and thereís no suspense in the movie. The movie doesnít have any of the paranoia which is found in the other films in the series. Again, the fact that the characters actually figure out what is happening is a nice touch, but it takes away the ďAm I going crazy?Ē aspect which made the other films work. Also, the fact that the transformed attempt to convert others by spraying a gooey substance from their mouths is far too reminiscent of The Hidden and Prince of Darkness.

The Invasion ran into some negative publicity when it was learned that producer Joel Silver had called on the makers of The Matrix, The Wachowski Brothers, to add some more excitement to the film. They in turn had V for Vendetta director James McTeigue shoot some additional footage. My response to that is, ďHow boring was this movie before?Ē The body snatcher plot is always an interesting one, but this movie never gains any momentum, even when itís trying to be exciting. Purists will want to check this one out, but I recommend that everyone else see the obscure 1993 entry, Body Snatchers.

The Invasion attempts to have you join it on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85.1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks good, as the image is fairly sharp and clear. However, there is a subtle amount of grain here, and itís noticeable from the opening, which takes place in a very white room. The colors look fine and I didnít note any overt video noise. However, some shots are lacking in detail and the image has a somewhat flat look. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As with the video, the opening scene tells you a lot about this track and itís good news. This scene features dialogue which comes from the 5 main speakers and it swirls around the room in an impressive manner. The crowd scenes feature some nice stereo and surround effects, and the Space Shuttle crash and the finale offering impressive subwoofer action.

The Invasion DVD contains an odd assortment of extras. "The Invasion: A New Story" (3 minutes) is a short which is essentially a commercial for the movie. It contains many clips and some comments from the cast and filmmakers, but none of it is in-depth. "The Invasion: On the Set" (3 minutes) feels like a continuation of the first piece, but it focuses more on the production of the film. We set some behind-the-scenes footage and comments by crew. "The Invasion: Snatched" (3 minutes) examines the specifics of the alien portrayals in the film. "We've Been Snatched Before: Invasion in Media History" (19 minutes) is a study of the films based on Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It contains comments from experts in several fields who talk about how the messages in the films change based on the political and social climate of the day. They discuss the themes of the films and how they tap into our fears.

Warner has also brought The Invasion to Blu-ray Disc. The disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 18 Mbps and the film is letterboxed at 1.85:1. The image looks excellent here, as the grain evident on the DVD transfer is nowhere to be found. The stark while opening scene looks fantastic and sets the standard for the clarity of the image here. The picture is very well-defined and the colors look fantastic. The image is never overly dark or bright, and there were no traces of video noise or artifacting. The audio track on the disc is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. As on the DVD, the opening scene grabs you here, as the voices come from every corner of the room. Exterior scenes provide a vast amount of highly-detailed stereo and surround sound effects and the subwoofer boom is palpable, but very smooth.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are identical to those found on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long