Movie Review: The Invasion

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There are a lot of movies about alien invasions out there. We have the numerous incarnations of War of the Worlds, not to mention The Missing and even shows like Invasion (which is not related to this movie except by common theme). Sometimes the movies are hit and miss; sometimes they are brilliant.
The Invasion is neither brilliant nor a tremendous miss. What it lacks for visual appeal it gains in good characterization and suspense. The commercials gave the impression this was some sort of Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake, and in a lot of ways it is (except here the aliens actually take over your body rather than creating a whole new one, though it should be mentioned that the IMDB subtitle for the film is Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The result is that we don’t really see the aliens, nor are we entirely certain that they are aliens (it’s sort of explained, but really it could just be an advanced parasitic infection of sorts). Still the film benefits from having Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman as leads, bringing in solid characterization to make you care about what is going on, a factor which can become a problem in films these days with excessive amounts of explosions, CGI, and random characters who either don’t fit or fail to change in any recognizable fashion.
So, without further ado, to the breakdown:

Direction 3/5
I can’t say that the direction is perfect. Thankfully there aren’t a lot of annoying camera angles or visual problems that can be attributed to the direction. This is pretty standard stuff. It gets the job done and allows you to forget that someone is behind the camera calling the shots. That’s a good thing. Other than that there’s not much to say.

Cast 3/5
It’s hard not to like Kidman in this film, and Craig does a lot to give this film some strength, by providing balance to Kidman’s heavy motherly role. Other cast members may be familiar to you, though likely not by name, and all of them serve to establish and excellent ensemble that don’t seem to have many problems with establishing a realistic connection. The romance between Kidman and Craig feels strained because it should be (Kidman plays a single mother dealing with a lot of issues over custody, so her desire to be protective of her son and realizing the importance of maintaining some distance comes through beautifully). I can’t complain about any of the cast because none of them managed to hurt the film.

Adaptation N/A
Although I am familiar with the original, I don’t really consider this a modern adaptation of the films that preceded it. It certainly has similarities, but I think the change in how the creatures take control makes it much more realistic and frightening.

Writing 4/5
Since we’re dealing with an obviously cliche idea, or at least one used enough times before to be recognizable, I find that parts of the story simply fall a little short of the mark. The best thing about this movie is that it doesn’t give you the standard Body Snatchers idea. Instead of the aliens growing copies of real people, and subsequently destroying the originals, the aliens here manifest as a sort of parasitic virus of sorts. The symptoms they exhibit before fully infecting you look like any other flu infection. This is a really neat idea when you think about how easy it would be for such an infection to spread.
Where the story is a little weak is in dealing with the aliens themselves. There is a lot of leading up to the big climax, but not nearly enough of the amazingly frightening reality that the aliens present. Still, the suspense provided was enough to keep me interested in what was going to happen in the end. Thankfully the end doesn’t disappoint.

Visuals 3/5
There isn’t a lot in the way of CGI or anything like. Most of the visuals are simply the characters and the city. Having said that I can say that at least the visuals are crisp. Not the greatest visual work, but certainly movie quality. Nothing that will knock you off your seat, since there isn’t any CGI or anything like that. Overall I’d say the visuals simply get the job done and avoid being annoying, because what would any scifi movie be with annoying visuals? Exactly.

Overall 3.25/5
To put it simply this is a good movie. Not the greatest, but definitely worth renting. It does exactly what it was made to do: entertain. If you don’t want to be entertained, don’t watch this movie. If you do, then give it a shot. If you like alien invasions and body snatcher stories, then this is another to add to your arsenal. The suspense and overall feel of the movie kept me interested from start to finish, plus there is an excellent cast. The short answer: good movie that doesn’t attempt to be anything more than it was advertised as.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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