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Opie fishes up an INVASION review... you know, that Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig flick!

Hey folks, Harry here with another look at Eli Roth's HOSTEL: PART 2. We just can't get enough of this film. Opie just loved it and I think when you read how the wholesome Opie pines about his longing days of soccer in the woods you'll give it a chance. Oh... Wait... This is a review of the INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS remake called INVASION with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig? Oh, we can't talk about that, it doesn't involve Eli Roth! He has Slovakian death lords on us to just keep talking up his film. We're fucked, I can't print this... I'm a dead man! Fuck!

Hey, guys. Opie here again, with a review of the upcoming Nicole Kidman-Daniel Craig flick THE INVASION. Spoilers are tiny, at most. THE INVASION When sitting down to watch The Invasion, it helps to not have read any of the press about its troubled production. I can only say that because I have read it, most recently in Entertainment Weekly’s recent Summer Preview issue. Injuries, re-shoots, and new directors, oh my! The bad press, and info about just what scenes were being re-shot, or added, and why, informed my opinion about the film as I watched it, and it really shouldn’t have. Because the flick is pretty good. We all know by now that The Invasion is a remake (or re-imagining, or re-thinking, or reboot, or whatever the hell you want to call it) of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, set in the present-day United States. It is a cerebral, effective thriller that provides plenty of opportunities for your date to bruise your forearm (there’s my nod to Ebert) as Nicole Kidman spends the film trying to outsmart a very intelligent, and increasingly populous enemy. They’re spores, people! At least that’s what they start out as, when a U.S. space shuttle re-enters the atmosphere and explodes over a large section of the eastern United States. But when those spores have a human host, the infected humans begin to speak slowly, deliberately, and menacingly. They also share what appears to be a group consciousness, a lack of emotion, and a desire to convert all of us. What happens after we’re all converted? World peace, apparently. And that would be bad. The film builds nicely, as Kidman, a psychiatrist, notices more and more creepy occurrences starting to happen. A few of the neighborhood dogs begin attacking random strangers (a classic horror device – they KNOW!!), people begin speaking in the aforementioned monotone, and the shit really hits the fan when a creepy census taker arrives at her front door to ask her a few questions… At 11 in the evening. Pretty soon, the whole world seems to be comprised of body snatchers, and those that aren’t are being hunted down, and converted, mostly by force. In the midst of this virtual carnival of paranoia, Kidman must try to find her son, and rescue him from the clutches of her estranged husband, who was one of the first people to have their bodies snatched. She is aided in this effort by a group of fellow doctors led by Daniel Craig and his Casino Royale poker buddy, Jeffrey Wright, who are working frantically on finding the source of the infection, and some way of stopping it. There is also supposed to be a romance between Kidman and Craig, and that is one of the few elements of the film that doesn’t work. They simply do not have any chemistry together, and that is a shame, because when one character confesses their love for the other during a key scene, it has about the same impact as when Bruce Willis told Milla Jovovich that he loved her at the end of The Fifth Element. Like, “Oh, really?” Their first date, a dinner party, provides one of the film’s best scenes, if only for the presence of the always entertaining Roger Rees, who simply does not get the amount of work that he deserves. Playing the kind of biting intellectual that he has become known for, a sort of Russian version of his Lord John Marbury from The West Wing, Rees playfully rips America, and human nature in general in a great speech about wars, crises and the atrocities that come with them. He doesn’t know it, but he is arguing the point of the alien life form that is about to begin taking over the world, and he advises her that the most shocking atrocities can be committed by anyone, under the right circumstances. And Kidman will learn this firsthand, as by the end of the film, she has clawed, beaten, and deceived her way to survival. In one scene, she commits a cold-blooded murder in her attempt to escape, even though it is unclear whether the person she kills is one of the body-snatched, or just a guy trying to do his job. There are some great moments here, including a moment on the subway when she learns that she’s not the only one who escaped, and a battle tactic that owes more than a little to Shaun of the Dead, but still manages to be fresh and suspenseful. The film is intense from start to finish, with its in medias res opening sequence, to its closing action sequence (which, according to the bad press, is what got added in later), although it is strangely action-free for most of its running time. The story is told on a smaller, more intimate scale, right up to its aforementioned climax. It’s like Signs, (although that film did better with its character dynamics and emotional resonance) in the way it allows the situation and the characters to be what is ultimately frightening, not major special effects, gore, or explosions (unless you count some pretty scary projectile vomit). The best special effects here are the actors themselves. With only a few exceptions (the aforementioned lack of chemistry between Kidman and Craig, and Kidman’s odd, detached demeanor during a creepy therapy session, when any other therapist would be visably horrified) the actors are able to create more horror with a few well-placed line readings, or looks, than they ever could with big CGI tentacles coming out of their bodies, or gigantic spaceships blowing skyscrapers to smithereens. When one character, one of the body-snatched, offers Nicole Kidman a cup of tea, which is obviously spiked with whatever is in the spores, the look on the actress’ face, and what happens afterward, will give you chills. It’s refreshing to have that done by solid acting alone, rather than big-budget special effects, and the tension feels earned. The ending, however, does not. Or at least, it doesn’t completely strike the right note. It tries, and Jeffrey Wright’s last scene is a great zinger. But the very final scene, and the note it strikes, makes you wish there was about 30 seconds of movie left. It needs another beat, a look, a line, something that would put a period at the end of the sentence. Is it as disappointing a last scene as Starship Troopers, or War of the Worlds? Well, not quite, but it could definitely been done better. Especially after the emotional ride of the 2 hours preceding it. But, all in all, The Invasion has more than enough thrills to justify getting a sitter, grabbing your old lady, and plunking down your hard-earned cash when it gets released later this summer. Just don’t read any press about it until after you’ve seen the movie. And if anyone offers you a cup of coffee, tea, milk, or soda, and hands it to you with a muted smile, just pretend to accidentally drop it on the floor, and then run screaming from the McDonald’s. Trust me. They’re everywhere
Readers Talkback
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  • June 5, 2007, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Fuck...

    by Mosquito March

    ...am I first?

  • June 5, 2007, 5:28 p.m. CST

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* wha-?* oh first! zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    by The Ghost of Marcus Brody

    .

  • June 5, 2007, 5:29 p.m. CST

    To Harry

    by ryan brookhart

    Read this Harry: http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/soapbox/soap060107.html

  • June 5, 2007, 5:33 p.m. CST

    Frankly...

    by Mosquito March

    ...I don't want to see a story like this told on a small scale - again. There have been so many non-global body snatcher adaptations, and I wish they'd broaden the scope for once. SIGNS did the same thing with the crop circle concept. It was enjoyable, but apart from some limited news footage and second-hand information, the entire invasion may as well have only been taking place in Pennsylvania. If the whole world is being taken over by these goddamn body snatcher things, I want to see THAT happen. I want to see the chaos and destruction that none of the other takes on this story have ever shown.

  • June 5, 2007, 5:34 p.m. CST

    KEITH URBAN GOTTA EAT

    by Pound Sand

    another remake of a remake of a remake? *SIGH*.

  • June 5, 2007, 5:35 p.m. CST

    Why?

    by VoxMillennium

    Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is a fascinating story, but I'm wondering what this latest version adds to the already existing three (or was it four?). I'm definitely curious about it and willing to give it a chance, but why this movie. Anybody know if the director has made any comments to that effect?

  • June 5, 2007, 5:35 p.m. CST

    "one of the few elements of the film that doesn’t work.

    by BitterMan23

    Unless this is an entirely different film than the one I saw about 3 weeks ago, that may be the wrongiest wrong thing i've ever read on AICN.

  • June 5, 2007, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Way to look like an ass Marcus Brody

    by Lando Griffin

    On a side note I am indifferent to Hostel, Eli Roth and "torture porn" but I love how spiteful Harry and the other contributors are putting the bitchey, whiney haters in their place. Kudos HeadGeek!

  • June 5, 2007, 5:47 p.m. CST

    BitterMan23 is right

    by shmu65

    This reviewer is completely full of shit, and an utter moron. I too saw this movie and it is crap. From beginning to end. You have to be a total nitwit to extract anything good from this film. But, in examining the reviewer's moniker, Opie couldn't be a more apt name for the type of person who would like this movie.

  • June 5, 2007, 5:48 p.m. CST

    Keith Urban gotta drink!

    by Lando Griffin

    Karl Urban gotta eat!

  • June 5, 2007, 5:49 p.m. CST

    Hey Opie....

    by shmu65

    Umm... Nopie.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:03 p.m. CST

    SoylentMean

    by Mosquito March

    I just watched THE LAST MAN ON EARTH a couple months ago: it's fucking AWFUL. After years of hearing people rave about it, I was shocked by what it actually is. Price spends half the movie making and drinking coffee, and listening to his slow and completely non-threatening vampire friend shout his name and bang on his front door with a stick on a nightly basis. The fact that he doesn't a) kill the one easy-to-kill vampire who knows where lives and who leads other vampires to help vandalize his house and car (???) every night, or b) load up on weapons and move to a secure location makes it a completely silly movie. It was bad even for the time period that it was made. It's astonishing that that it was made three years after a classy Hammer sci-fi cheapie like THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE, which still holds up as a great film.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:06 p.m. CST

    You mean the lack of chemistry between Nicole Kidman...

    by jimmy_009

    ...and everyone else on the Planet Earth?

  • June 5, 2007, 6:06 p.m. CST

    bacci40

    by Mosquito March

    Too bad you skipped the '93 version. Gabrielle Anwar and Meg Tilly get totally full-frontal-naked in it. Not together, but still.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Wow, shmu... Wow.

    by ThatOpieGuy

    No need to make it personal, bro. If you don't agree, then fine. I saw the flick, and took the time to write my opinion. If you saw it, where's your review, dude? And, speaking of appropriate names for talkbackers, Bitterman23 is probably not the name of somebody who you want to be siding up with, you know?

  • June 5, 2007, 6:11 p.m. CST

    First

    by BigJambo

    First!!

  • June 5, 2007, 6:12 p.m. CST

    First

    by BigJambo

    Not!

  • June 5, 2007, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Did you see this movie with Anthony?

    by i kick tits

    Get it?

  • June 5, 2007, 6:16 p.m. CST

    The Original "Invasion"

    by mike904

    Something that always confused me about the original.......these pods "grow" into a person, taking his/her idenity and place in society. What happened to the real person? At the end, Dana Wynter falls asleep and wakes up as one of "them". Why did she change just by falling asleep? There was no pod to take her place.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:19 p.m. CST

    Plant!!!

    by jarjarmessiah

    Some had to say it. Right?

  • June 5, 2007, 6:21 p.m. CST

    SoylentMean

    by mascan42

    As in Opie and Anthony, the radio shock jocks. Just thought a fan should jump in before the Stern zombies here attacked them.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:22 p.m. CST

    LOL, Hi GlennDandy

    by mascan42

    Thought you never left Wackbag.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:37 p.m. CST

    I'm not one to call plant... but...

    by Kasch

    Having seen the film at a test screening, that's exactly what this is: a fluff piece. Unless they changed it back to Herschbiegal's original version, this garbage is unsalvagable. Bad, bad, bad...

  • June 5, 2007, 6:48 p.m. CST

    I'm expecting this to be Eli

    by justin s

    I'm expecting this to be Eli Roth's finest work to date. he directed this, right?

  • June 5, 2007, 6:52 p.m. CST

    "neighborhood dogs begin attacking random strangers"

    by Son of Hades

    <p>One man's "classic horror device" is another man's cliché.</p><p>Admit it, this is another one of those "it's better than you might think" plants, isn't it? Just critical enough to make us think he aint one.</p><p>"There are some great moments here...a battle tactic that owes more than a little to Shaun of the Dead, but still manages to be fresh and suspenseful."</p><p>Bollocks. I'll wager ten pounds of someone else's money that it's the hoary old 'blend into the crowd of the undead/snatched' tactic. FFS, that was already shit by the time of Shaun of the Dead, being used as it had a couple of years earlier in the execrable Mummy Returns.</p>

  • June 5, 2007, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Who is credited as director of this monstrosity?

    by godoffireinhell

    Is it still just Hirschbiegel or are McTeigue and the Wachowskis credited as well?

  • June 5, 2007, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Where's Bruno?

    by kurdt420

    How could Bruce leave us hangin like that? He answered one batch of questions then nothing. I'm forced to bitch on this talkback because there is nowhere else to do it. Man I have even more respect for Sly now, at least he found time in his schedule for his fans.

  • June 5, 2007, 7:06 p.m. CST

    not only do we have four invasion movies now...

    by Demosthenes2

    ...The Puppet Masters and The Faculty also felt like "re-imaginings," even though the Puppet Masters novel was written before the Invasion novel. The five films that came before this one have ranged from mediocre to great, but I didn't find any to be bad. Although we didn't need another remake at all, at the very least all six films have put the same concept in very different contexts and tried to suggest somewhat different allegorical possibilities, so it wouldn't necessarily be as huge a waste of time as, say, The Planet of the Apes 2001. Anyway, even after all the negative press, I would still like this new Invasion to be good, so this review brought some hope, but I'm still expecting the worst from the previous reviews.

  • June 5, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    LEAFY...

    by El Scorcho

    Ummmm... plant. Obviously.

  • June 5, 2007, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Starship Troopers

    by DrDestructo

    The last scene of Starship Troopers was disappointing? Huh?

  • June 5, 2007, 7:46 p.m. CST

    Michael Bay Answers!!

    by wadi77

    http://tinyurl.com/yv2gfh

  • June 5, 2007, 7:56 p.m. CST

    POD!!!

    by Mgmax

    I meant plant.

  • June 5, 2007, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Yo Lando

    by The Ghost of Marcus Brody

    I was asleep dumbass.

  • June 5, 2007, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Holy shit, a fucking census taker? At 11:00 at night?

    by spacehog

    THAT'S FUCKING TERRIFYING!

  • June 5, 2007, 9:31 p.m. CST

    MICHAEL BAY

    by lecter1914

    Wow...I think he just summed up why we dont need to see TRANSFORMERS.."Why Flames on Optimus...because I wanted flames on Optimus." Talk about hating your fanbase.

  • June 5, 2007, 9:34 p.m. CST

    Oh I get it now Marcus

    by Lando Griffin

    still wasn't funny bitch

  • June 5, 2007, 11:20 p.m. CST

    I still think the Philip Kaufman remake

    by ewokstew

    is by far the creepiest of them all. That flick is seriously unhinged due to the use of camera angles, lighting and music. Sure, it screams 70's, but it still holds up well on many levels.

  • June 5, 2007, 11:51 p.m. CST

    PLANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by J-Dizzle

    Looks a like a DEPARTED ripoff. I'll probably wait until it comes out on DVD and rent it.

  • June 6, 2007, midnight CST

    first!!

    by chipps

    actually i like the sound of this. I'm a bit worried about nicole though. I mean it is a bit worrying that there is a movie called 'Australia' on the horizon. seems a little ambitious ya know? And if it is shit or simply makes less than the 200m that it cost it will be 'australia is out right now' and you'll hear no more from the land down under until the steve erwin bio pic. Plus last man left alive was sweet.

  • June 6, 2007, 12:41 a.m. CST

    Spores!!!

    by Olsen Twins_Fan

    You mean those things which plants exude, right?

  • June 6, 2007, 12:51 a.m. CST

    Whose this douche?!

    by D. Allusion

    If this guy's not a plant, he should get a job as one; his writing gave me shivers the movie never will.

  • June 6, 2007, 1:09 a.m. CST

    PS: That's "Who's", and I vote Kaufman, Too

    by D. Allusion

    A fine movie that still holds up. Jeff Goldblum is hilarious, and when was the last time you could say that. Go on, take a look at it. Go on, now, you heard me.

  • June 6, 2007, 1:33 a.m. CST

    You want chemistry? Nicole Kidman+Naomi Watts

    by bioforge

    You know you want it.

  • June 6, 2007, 1:40 a.m. CST

    A movie review of a film about Plant like alien....

    by lost.rules

    invaders written by a plant. How ironic.

  • June 6, 2007, 2:46 a.m. CST

    That's not ironic.

    by Son of Hades

    HOW IRONIC.

  • June 6, 2007, 3:26 a.m. CST

    Plant? How bout I come over there and plant my foot up

    by ThatOpieGuy

    But seriously, I've been writing reviews on this site for a long time, years now, and this is the first time I've been called a plant. And several times, to boot. I think it's amazing my run has lasted this long, though. I mean, I was much, much nicer to "Evan Almighty." It's got to be some sort of AICN rite of passage, though. Thank you all for making it happen. I couldn't have done it without the ever-reliable tendency of this site's readership to put every film into only the two categories of "sux" and "rulz" and separate all those who comment here into the two groups of "haters" and "plants." In the next review I write, I'll be sure to bash the flick brutally, whatever it is, as that is sure to be the only thing that will win me some credibility with the Talkbackers, and I do care so much what you all think of me.

  • June 6, 2007, 3:33 a.m. CST

    RE: Starship Troopers

    by ThatOpieGuy

    Yeah, the ending to Starship Troopers. Neil Patrick Harris lays his hand on the alien and announces: "He's afraid!" The End? That didn't feel like a jerk-off ending to you? Just my opinion.

  • June 6, 2007, 3:45 a.m. CST

    Son of Hades

    by ThatOpieGuy

    Sooo... Do I get credit for not having seen "the execrable Mummy Returns," or does it make me more of a nitwit somehow? Bollocks indeed. And, yeah, you guessed correctly which tactic I was talking about. I was trying to keep spoilers out of my review by discussing what I liked, and why I liked it, without being so specific as to ruin it for people. I suppose I shouldn't have bothered.

  • June 6, 2007, 6:08 a.m. CST

    No, it was 'The Mummy' not the Mummy Returns

    by Samson_K

    Where John Hannah's character blends with the undead crowd! And it was actually a very funny scene as it seemed so ad-hoc.

  • June 6, 2007, 6:09 a.m. CST

    D'oh - when Pedants think alike - Sorry Messi

    by Samson_K

    I have no more to give

  • June 6, 2007, 6:16 a.m. CST

    THAT TACTIC

    by Regicidal_Maniac

    was originally employed by Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter in Don Siegel's 1956 Invasion Of the Bodysnatchers and again by Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Veronica Cartwright in Phillip Kaufman's 1978 remake and AGAIN by Gabrielle Anwar and Bily Wirth in Abel Ferrara's 1993 remake Bodysnatchers before itsuse in The Mummy or Shaun of the Dead.

  • June 6, 2007, 6:21 a.m. CST

    The Pedant in Me was just stating it was the Mummy

    by Samson_K

    and not The Mummy Returns! I know it was in the 78 version but haven't seen the 53 version for years. If it is that tactic - it could be Nicole and Daniel smacking the pod people around the head with baseball bats to the sounds of ELO??? Probably 'Mr Blue Sky' but possibly 'Hold on Tight (To Your Dreams)'

  • June 6, 2007, 7:27 a.m. CST

    bacci40

    by Mosquito March

    I wasn't expecting LAST MAN ON EARTH to be a 'horror film' - I expected it to be a competent sci-fi movie that has a central character who isn't frustratingly stupid. He literally sits there drinking coffee and listening to a bunch of vampires try to break his door down every night instead of killing their leader and/or moving somewhere where they can't just walk up and destroy his house and car. Who in the hell would do that?

  • June 6, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    who drinks coffee from mcdonald's?

    by occula

    there is NOTHING from 'starship troopers' deserving of any mockery, especially the ending. ESPECIALLY!!!

  • June 6, 2007, 10:24 a.m. CST

    I love Kidman, so I'm pretty excited about this.

    by a goonie

    Sure, the stories been done a million times now, but this sounds like an enjoyable couple hours and Nicole Kidman fucking rocks. Not everyone shares my adoration for her, but I think she's one of the most engaging and watchable actresses alive today. She's up for trying new things, taking on new challenges, and she's exquisitely gorgeous. She's made some total trash as of late (The Stepford Wives, The Interpreter), but I'll still watch her in anything she does.

  • June 6, 2007, 11:24 a.m. CST

    The Interpreter was "total trash"...?

    by Osmosis Jones

    I thought that was one of the best movies Kidman has appeared in lately.

  • June 6, 2007, 11:59 a.m. CST

    messi

    by ThatOpieGuy

    I am sorry to disappoint you, but I never did catch Downfall. I did see "The Mummy," though, and I could not remember the crowd tactic. The reason it's effective here is because the bodysnatched are intelligent, and each of them is looking for people who might be faking, and showing traits that only uninfected humans would: sweating, nervousness, and any sign of emotion. So Kidman, who is frantic and hysterical, is trying to act cool, detached and unemotionless on the street where everyone is staring at her, scrutinizing. Seeing children dragged away from their mothers, elderly gettiung injected against their will with syringes, and having to fight the inner battle to keep her emotions off of her face... It was pretty suspenseful, and well-acted by Kidman.

  • June 6, 2007, 1:07 p.m. CST

    How bad can it be?

    by radio1_mike

    It can't possibly be worse than Kidman's remake of The Stepford Wives. THAT vehicle would have been as a Broadway play than some remake of a horrifying sci-fi classic. The 50's original really works for me as allegory to the Red Scare. But not so much as an actually invasion movie. The 70's one just creeps me as an invasion movie and an attack on the Me Decade... Which was the 70's fellows... Not the 80's, as some people (especially wikipedia) seem to think, but I digress... I really hope this version can keep it character driven. Oh, by the way, The Omega Man pwns...

  • June 6, 2007, 3:01 p.m. CST

    messi

    by ThatOpieGuy

    Yeah, someone could grab a shotgun and go to town, but the bodysnatched aren't mindless zombies. They are intelligent beings sharing one consciousness. They've infiltrated the military and police forces, and they all know how to use their weapons and everything, so any attempt to simply start gunning down body snatchers would attract a lot of attention, and result in a majorly outmatched firefight.

  • June 6, 2007, 3:26 p.m. CST

    What's the political side of this?

    by The Dum Guy

    Is this in anyway a comment on today's society? I thought the original Body Snatchers was a parrellel to McCarthyism.

  • June 6, 2007, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Political Side

    by ThatOpieGuy

    It's just a roller-coaster ride, from my perspective. I suppose if you really wanted to search for an allegory, you could interpret that the bodysnatchers were symbolic of Americans... If you see Americans as cultural invaders who want to convert all those who think and speak differently, or have other cultures, to walk and dress and act like us, to eat McDonalds' hamburgers and wear Nike shoes and watch Tom Cruise movies... And that we think it falls to us to be the world's moral compass, or the world's policeman. ...But you'd really have to stretch to come up with that. There are no major overt suggestions that would indicate the filmmakers were trying to inject a political agenda, except for the above-mentioned dinner party scene with Roger Rees, and that was more foreshadowing than anything else.

  • June 6, 2007, 4:16 p.m. CST

    messi

    by ThatOpieGuy

    I think you should get to work on your own screenplay. I personally would pay to see your flick... twice.

  • June 6, 2007, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Nicole Kidman has no pheremones

    by Mennon

    She is completely without sex appeal. It's amazing. She should be attractive, everything is in it's proper place, but it just doesn't work for some reason. Could some psychologist or physiologist explain this phenomena to me?

  • June 7, 2007, 6:45 a.m. CST

    Aliens sound like the Borg, just with less sinewy wires

    by Jugs

    ..goiing inside your body.

  • June 7, 2007, 9:40 a.m. CST

    You know what would be really hot?

    by Abominable Snowcone

    A documentary film showing Nicole Kidman at home, cooking in the kitchen. You know, mixing up cookie dough in a bowl with her hair tied back. No dialogue, no real plot to speak of. Just Nicole making food. Jesus! The world needs this movie.

  • June 7, 2007, 2:43 p.m. CST

    Osmosis Jones...

    by a goonie

    Regarding The Interpreter, I know some enjoyed it, but I just hated it. I found it to be a completely lifeless thriller with zero thrills. The story was achingly predictable and I didn't care about any of the characters in the movie. So yeah, I hated it, but you know, to each their own.