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The Invisible (2007)

Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/16/2007

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/15/2007

I don't know if you should file this one under ironic or hypocritical. I hate movie spoilers. When I see a movie, I want to know as little about it as possible. And yet, I love trailers. Those two-minute encapsulations of a movie have always fascinated me. A good trailer should give you an idea of what the movie is about, but not give away any specifics. (That's a rarity these days.) While this sounds simple enough, it doesn't always happen. The trailer for The Invisible illuminated the film's main premise, but it also skewed and withheld many other important factors. Thus, the viewer is faced with a film which is somewhat different than what was expected.

The Invisible tells the story of high school senior Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin). Nick is very bright (he's a gifted poet), comes from an affluent family, and has a pretty girlfriend, Suzie (Tania Saulnier). Despite this, Nick often feels like an outsider. His peers don't get him and his mother has been very distant since the death of his father. Thus, Nick plans to leave for a writing course in London.

Nick's best friend, Pete (Chris Marquette) has gotten involved with a thug named Annie (Margarita Levieva) and is unable to repay a debt to her. Nick intervenes and finds himself in a brawl with Annie. When Annie is arrested following a robbery, she suspects that Pete called the police. Pete tells Annie that it was Nick. Annie and her gang confront Nick, beat him, and leave him for dead in the forest.

Nick awakens, seemingly unharmed, and makes his way to school. But, once there, he quickly learns that no one can see or hear him. Nick's attempts to manipulate the world around him don't work. Nick realizes that his body is alive in the woods and that his "essence" is allowed to roam about. Nick goes to his Mother and to Pete to attempt to communicate with them, but to no avail. Nick then begins to follow Annie, hoping that he can somehow play upon her conscience in time to save his own life.

Just like Nick's character The Invisible is caught between two worlds. The film is based on a 2002 Swedish film, Den Osynlige. In many ways, the movie retains a European sensibility, as it's got a slow, dreamlike quality. The movie is dark, and it takes some turns that don't necessarily mirror a Hollywood sensibility. The movie was directed by David S. Goyer, a man who has made his name in Hollywood by penning such comic book films like Batman Begins and the Blade trilogy. (He directed Blade: Trinity.) The Invisible is by no means an action film, but one can't help but feel Goyer's hand behind moments like a car chase and some fisticuffs. The movie also sets up a clear sense of right and wrong, heroes and villains, and with Nick's situation, he's not unlike a superhero.

This dichotomous nature flows through The Invisible, making for an uneasy viewing experience. Is this a movie which can't decide what it wants to be, or is it something which is offering something different from what mainstream American audiences are used to? It appears to be a little of both. We are faced with a movie where the hero is literally a non-entity. Much like the audience, he is only able to watch the proceedings and not interact with them. In a society where we are accustomed to pro-active main characters, this can be hard for the audience to swallow. Then, the movie asks us to sympathize with the villain, by portraying Annie's desperate homelife. This is an even bigger task, as Annie is shown as a morally bankrupt degenerate.

Essentially, we are faced with a movie which is nothing like what was advertised and is not the typical movie with teen characters. The trailer made The Invisible look like a supernatural thriller which leaned more towards being a horror movie. It also implied that Nick's girlfriend (whoever that may be) helped him to find his body. Even the DVD box states "Together they must solve his murder..." when we know that he's not dead. In reality, The Invisible falls closer to the dramatic end of the spectrum and it just happens to have supernatural overtones. The movie is closer to Brick or The Lookout than anything aimed at the typical teenaged horror crowd. In fact, the movie never looks like anything other than a drama, as Goyer bathes the film in greys and shadows, creating a very somber mood.

Ultimately, The Invisible is going to divide most crowds, especially those who had seen the trailer and went in expecting the film to be more of a thriller. The movie is actually a character study in which a boy who always felt out of place finds himself literally displaced from reality and must reach out to others for help. The movie is beautifully shot and must be admired for the fact that it doesn't want to be the typical teenager movie, but The Invisible is ultimately too solemn for its own good.

The Invisible suddenly appears on DVD courtesy of Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the picture is sharp and clear. The image shows a slight amount of grain, but there are no defects from the source material. This is a dark movie, featuring a monochromatic palette, but the picture is never too dark. The rare appearance of colors look very good. The transfer shows a mild amount of video noise at times, but otherwise it's stable. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track brings us a nice amount of stereo and surround effects. The story lends itself to an ethereal feel and this is complemented by a notable amount of sound effects which come from the front and rear channels. We also get a nice amount of subwoofer action during the more intense sequences.

The Invisible DVD contains a limited amount of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from director David S. Goyer and co-writer Christine Roum. This is a fairly good talk as the pair give a lot of information about the story, including deleted sub-plots and the ways in which the film differs from the Swedish original. Goyer gives details about how the film was shot, including the scenes in which Nick's behavior seems to effect the environment, but he never gets too technical. There is also a second COMMENTARY with co-writer Mick Davis, who also wrote the Swedish original, who is watching the film for the first time. He focuses on the characters and their actions while also mentioning how the film differs from the original. He also touches on the autobiographical moments in the film. The DVD contains 11 DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes and contain optional commentary from Goyer and Roum. These scenes contain many more details about Suzie, Peter, and an old man who can see Nick -- he was prominently featured in the trailer. There are MUSIC VIDEOS from 30 Seconds to Mars for "The Kill (Live)" (which I didn't hear in the movie) and Sparta for "Taking Back Control".

The Invisible has also come to Blu-Ray Disc. The video transfer is 1080p HD AVC and the film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. As I watch more and more Blu-rays, I keep asking myself, "Is it really that clear, or is it just my imagination." Because, let me tell you, this one is clear. The image shows no grain, save for some exterior landscape scenes. The image has a very nice depth to it and the detail is very impressive. The colors are very deep and true and the image is never overly dark. I detected no pixellation or video noise here. In short, the image is crystal clear, and no doubt beats a pristine film print. The Blu-ray offers an Linear PCM uncompressed 5.1 48khz audio track which runs at 6.9 Mbps. This track is a tough call. There's no doubt that it's more detailed than the DVD track, as the front channels come to life with a variety of sounds. And the overall clarity of the track is better. But, the surround sound and stereo effects are basically the same, save for a night-club scene, where the throbbing bass is more potent on the Blu-ray. The extras here are identical to those found on the DVD. If you are going to get The Invisible, then the Blu-ray is the way to go. The audio may not be home theater demo level quality, but overall it's a nice package.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long