Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Invasion (2007)

Now that I've seen it, I can't say that I find it very good, but it certainly is a lot more interesting than I was expecting (not necessarily a good thing). For one thing, this is the first version of the story that isn't a horror movie - this one's an action thriller with car chases and guns and nothing really all that scary or creepy. The closest this comes is that the body snatchers this time aren't pod people, but space spores who can infect a person like a virus, which means that this is the first movie I can think of where somebody projectile vomits mucus into Nicole Kidman's face - something I wholeheartedly applaud, but more silly than scary.

This movie also differentiates itself by being more overtly political than the other versions. This one's a police state/New World Order/the-Bush-administration-is-evil version, which is sort of a good idea in concept but not really in execution, because the paranoia feels applied, affected, not organic or based on anything but the filmmakers' own sense of ire.

The movie has one other halfway intriguing notion, which is that the world under alien control magically is one without war - the blessings of totalitarianism. The movie means to end on an ambiguous note, as if to pose the question, maybe peace and human emotions are incompatible? An idea which I think is basically stupid. Why should we need to choose between a peaceful world and one in which the human race doesn't consist of pod people? Come on guys, if you're going to do ambiguity, come up with an idea that's more complex than this.

Finally, this movie is a good example of form not meeting function. It's a glossy, expensive movie with good-looking movie star Nicole Kidman in the lead, taking place in a series of expensive houses and offices. The production design and cinematography are clean and precise. All of this is completely wrong for a movie that wants to illustrate a contrast between messy, emotional humanity and cold, efficient pod people. The last scene of the movie takes place in a clean, chrome- and marble-covered kitchen with two little kids wearing identical school uniforms watched by Nicole Kidman's unlined, pretty face. And these people aren't the dehumanized drones?


Piper said...

Visually, I thought this was interesting in parts. The people vomiting into the coffee cups was a bit disturbing - but the idea of infecting someone by vomiting into their mouth is not really original. It feels a bit Prince of Darkness or 28 Days Later ish.

I also thought it interesting that they played the world without war idea so nicely (peace agreements play on the TV in background while they eat) and then they make the point so overtly at the end with the close-up of Nicole's face as they voice over that monologue from that professor.

I have already said too much about a film that doesn't really deserve it.

Jeff McMahon said...

I don't know, the 'exposition by TV in the background' thing is something that can be really badly done. It's less blatant here than it was in Haneke's Cache, but still I thought it was kind of clumsy.
I did like the vomiting into the cups though, since it was staged as something ceremonial and deliberate. Kind of had a Fight Club vibe. said...

I haaaaaated this movie.

I describe it as John Lennons "Imagine" turned into a shitty politcal thriller. It missed on every level.

Jeff McMahon said...

That's a really funny comparison. Yes, it's a movie with dumb ideas poorly executed, and I'm basically sick of Nicole Kidman and her bad choices of projects at this point, but I can't get too riled up about it because my expectations weren't very high.

Noah said...

I just saw this one the other day too. I was trying the whole movie to figure out which parts the Wachowskis directed and I honestly couldn't figure it out (except for the car chase scene that I knew they shot). I don't know if this speaks worse about the Wachowskis lack of a unique vision or about the project's lack of a unifying vision from the jump.

But to tell you the truth, I was surprised by how much I didn't loathe the film. It was merely "not good."

Jeff McMahon said...

The two areas that struck me as truly Wachowski-esque (Wachovskian?) were the car chase and the montage of Kidman and Craig walking around on the street and talking about feeling paranoid, the manner of cross-cutting was very reminiscent of Bound or Matrix Reloaded.

frankbooth said...

Why didn't they just get Cronenberg? Not that he would have done it.

Speaking of horror remakes, I'm curious about your take on Halloween, since I assume you're planning to go. More interested than I am in actually seeing it, anyway.

(There was something else I was curious about. Sleep in something-or-other...? Maybe the mailman swiped it.)

Jeff McMahon said...

I sent a copy off in the mail at least a week or two ago, there are plenty of other copies where that came from.

Review of Zombieween coming by Monday morning at the latest.

frankbooth said...

I hope you didn't actually address it Lumberton, USA. I'll keep looking, and tide myself over with L'Eclisse.

frankbooth said...

A digression, but since you have a strong interest in the topic:

You've complained (with good reason) about the state of contemporary mainstream horror. But have you seen the work of, and how do you rate, "underground" filmmakers like Eric Stanze, Scooter McRae, Andrew Parkinson, David Gebroe and even the August Underground guys?

There's certainly some extreme, transgressive stuff out there if you look for it. But is any of it any good?

Jeff McMahon said...

I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen anything by any of those guys, although I've seen some of their stuff in video stores. If any of their movies are primarily on the festival circuit then that's probably why I would have missed them.