|release date||August 17 2007|
|studio||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|starring||Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Body Snatchers is a true anomaly in the cinematic world. It has been remade twice (officially, not even counting all of the ripoffs), and all three films are essentially adaptations of a novel by Jack Finney. And despite the often terrible nature of remakes, both the 1978 AND 1993 versions were just as good as the original. So in theory, another modernized remake is a perfectly good idea, especially given the current state of the world. The possibilities to draw parallels with the real world are endless, especially today, with heightened fears of terrorism, multiple wars, etc. This could be the most thought provoking genre film in years, right?
Apparently, wrong. Dead wrong. Instead, The Invasion ranks as one of the most misguided and ultimately terrible genre films in years. Reports of Warner Bros. being unhappy with the original version and bringing in the Wachowskis and James McTeigue to reshoot/re-edit the film have been all over the internet for quite some time, and by God does it show.
For starters, the usually dependable Nicole Kidman uses THREE accents throughout the film, instantly zapping you out of whatever involvement you may have had with the movie at that point. She is saddled with the “person who figures out something’s wrong” character, and other than the accent trouble, she isn’t bad, but the character is given so little to do that would require someone of Kidman’s stature you will often find yourself wondering why they just didn’t hire someone cheaper. Ditto for Daniel Craig (who filmed his role before he was even cast as James Bond, which shows how long this movie has been in the can), as her concerned best friend who helps her not only discover the nature of the alien lifeform, but also a way to stop it.
To it’s credit, this film, now the 4th adaptation of Finney’s novel, takes some interesting turns and presents some truly fascinating ideas. Throughout the film, we are reminded of war via newspapers and news broadcasts. As the film progresses, we start to see things like “Darfur Cease Fire” and “Shiites and Sunnis reach agreement.” The problem is, every single one of these elements is completely betrayed by the editing. I have no problem saying, without hyperbole, that this is the absolute worst editing I have ever seen in a major motion picture. The film is generally presented in chronological order (assuming a glaring error concerning Kidman’s cell phone is in fact one of continuity and not just a massive re-edit), but throughout the film we are given glimpses of future scenes in the middle of present ones. For example, Kidman is cornered inside a house. Suddenly, we cut to her well into her escape, only to cut back to the house where she is trying to escape from, then back to her far away, back to the house, etc. It serves absolutely no narrative function whatsoever (it reeks of “we need more action in the first two acts!” more than anything), and in fact HARMS the movie by constantly giving away what little suspense a scene would hold, as well as breaking up whatever interesting story ideas are presented. We know she will escape, we know she will reunite with her son, etc. before they happen. At one point, Kidman answers a door (from the inside) and the film cuts to her opening a door from the outside. What sort of sense does that make?
Presented entirely chronologically, without all of these bizarre and pointless jump cuts, the film would merely be disappointing, rather than terrible. Because, as you might expect, the editing isn’t the only problem. One could easily assume from the glimpses that are left, that the original version was more “talky”, for lack of a better word, and presented a strong argument for which would make a better world: one with war and independent thought, or a peaceful one where everyone was part of one mind. But the re-shoot scenes consist of high-flying action, when suddenly, the aliens (oh, by the way, there are no ‘pods’ in this version), who up until now have been totally calm and just sort of creepy, suddenly begin running after Kidman and tossing Molotov cocktails at her car, acting less like the characters they have been throughout the first hour of the movie and more like the zombies in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. And even if you knew nothing about the post production trouble, anyone familiar with her would wonder why Malin Akerman, the beautiful actress from Entourage and a few other movies, appears in literally ONE SHOT of the film (IMDb lists her character as “Autumn”), as what might as well be any old alien extra.
The best thing this movie could ever achieve would be as an example how studio interference can totally destroy what may have been a promising film at some point. Based on his past work, (original) director Oliver Hirschbiegel is certainly no dummy, and will hopefully escape from this debacle unscathed. But Warner Bros., Joel Silver, and whoever did the re-shoots should all be ashamed of themselves. And whoever edited the thing should be banned from ever touching an Avid for as long as he lives.
The purpose of any remake is to try to top the one before it. Based on this, whoever does the eventual next remake (we seem to get one every 15-20 years) has his work cut out for him.