The Sci-Fi Chronicles brings me the latest update of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers tale, and after years of hearing terrible things about it, I think my expectations going into it were low enough that I was actually fairly entertained by it. Except for the need for a happy Hollywood ending… I think Tinsel Town was kind of missing the point there. Sigh.
It does have a top-notch cast, led by Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig (who received word while he was shooting this film that he would be the next James Bond) and Jeremy Northam. The trio form the center of the story, but it still has an epic scale to it, while catering to the smaller intimate, and therefore more terrifying moments.
When the space shuttle comes apart on re-entry, spreading debris over a number of states, Tucker Kaufman (Northam) is called into investigate, and unwittingly becomes infected by a strange spore that seems to be covering most of the craft’s surface.
Eschewing the need for pods this time around, the spore infects the host, reproducing inside it, and genetically modifying their DNA, which causes changes in their personality and a complete lack of emotion, heralded by the two familiar lines of the series to date “My husband/wife is not my husband/wife” and “They get you when you sleep.”
Kidman is Dr. Carol Bennell, Kaufman’s ex-wife, and now single mother to Oliver (Jackson Bond). As a therapist, she’s the one who hears the complaints about people not being who they are, one of her patients being one of the stars of the ’78 version, Veronica Cartwright’s Wendy Lenk.
Under the guise of wanting to reconnect with his son, Kaufman takes Oliver, but Carol becomes suspicious of her ex’s behavior right away, conferring with her best friend, and would-be lover if he wasn’t permanently friend-zoned, Ben Driscoll (Craig).
As a wonderful side note, Driscoll’s work associate is Stephen Galeano played by Jeffrey Wright, who would of course, go on to help Craig out as Felix Leiter in the Bond films.
There are things I liked about this film, like the idea that animals notice the changes, and dogs react aggressively to it. I like how people try to get by pretending they have no emotion, so they won’t be detected, and the ways they then reveal themselves. I also enjoyed the modern backdrop of the film, it definitely gave it a more sinister feel, and proved itself to be a stronger remake than the 90s version. The idea of using the concept of a superflu to make sure everyone gets a government sanctioned injection, thereby infecting them is great, and the whole spraying of bodily fluids to infect is pretty creepy as well. There’s a commentary there that needs to be explored about society itself… perhaps at a later time.
And this is an odd one, I liked the color correction, it gave the whole thing a rather somber, overcast feeling.
However, as mentioned, it cheaps out with the Hollywood ending, and no one gets to do the Body Snatchers’ scream…
If they could have fixed those two things, they might have had a better picture. Not everything has to have a happy ending, sometimes a film works best with the “We’re completely screwed” ending… it generates conversations.
Oh well. Of the four do you have a favorite? I can’t wait to see what the book has for me next!