Friday, August 17, 2007

The Invasion

CD in Play: The Revolutionaries, Channel One Revisited Dub

On Wednesday night I saw the newest remake of the 1956 classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one of a long line of remakes released this summer. Simply entitled The Invasion, this is the third version of the story originally conceived by Jack Finney for Colliers magazine in 1954.
Initially helmed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the director of the acclaimed Downfall (Der Untergang), the studio was unhappy with the film he had made and commissioned a rewrite by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix) and re-shoots by James McTeigue - often considered to be the Brothers' protégé. Not always a good sign, but the studio also stepped in and commissioned a new beginning and ending for the original film and the results were fine.
The Invasion fails on a very simple level. The performances are fine (though the outstanding Jeffrey Wright is given yet another unsatisfactory role) and the film looks good, but there is no dramatic tension. There is no doubt at any point in the film as to what the outcome will be. Unlike the 1956 original or the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy, (I have never seen the 1993 film Body Snatchers by Abel Ferrara) you never really get that paranoid hunted feeling that makes these sorts of films work so well. That lack of uncertainty just makes for a rather lacklustre experience.
Like zombie pictures, the thing that is truly horrific about the concept of the body snatchers and becoming one of the "pod people" (see the 56 or 78 films) is that our individuality is lost. There is no love, no feeling of any kind, just existence. Everything that makes us us is lost and can never come back. A form that looks like you exists, but it is devoid of the things that make you human. This film and the 1993 remake do delve into the idea of what makes humans human, but attempt to do so from a different angle. From what I have been told, the `93 remake succeeds, but this version clearly fails simply by it lack of true jeopardy. The invaders aren't radically redesigning people into something alien, at worst their aim seems to be to create a sort of worldwide Prozac Nation, but without the drugs.
Honestly, I felt more dramatic tension and uncertainty of the outcome of British zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, than I did watching The Invaders. I would be interested in seeing Hirschbiegel version of the film to see what he had intended to do with the story. As I said, the acting is fine and it really does look good, but there is no tension, no sense of jeopardy so there is really no reason to spend your time watching this version of the story when it has been far better at least two to three times before.


Blogger Magnus said...

I was asked by co-workers if I would ever watch this version again to do a side by side comparison. The answer is no.

22 August, 2007 09:32  

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