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