The Invasion, with all of its star power, seemed to have been fraught with production issues from the start. After unsatisfactory cuts by the original director were screened, Warner brought in the Wachowski Bros. to finish off the film and pump up its ending. While it tested better with audiences, it’s hard to deny that the final product wasn’t a haphazard mess that never quite fired on all of its cylinders. Instead, it seemed to gimp along in spots while giving us a cluster of car crashes in the end.
When a space shuttle mysteriously crash lands on Earth and scatters its parts all around the United States, those that came in contact with the ships fragments were exposed to a dead alien virus that began slowly taking over its hosts, before finally manifesting after the individual went to sleep. With a good portion of the US being affected by the virus, the government scrambles to find a cure that’ll stop the alien gene from spreading across the entire continent.
Notice how I didn’t have to mention Nicole Kidman or Daniel Craig in the opening paragraphs? It’s because they really didn’t help or hurt the film in the end. Their roles were so generic that they could have been interchanged and the films biggest flaw is that we never got to know our characters. By the time the alien invasion comes in full force, we don’t really care who lives and who dies and seeing Kidman get knocked down and constantly thwarted in her attempts to get to her son…I found myself honestly not caring if she saved him or not.
It may sound cold, but the script just didn’t allow us enough time to get to know the characters. On top of that, you never were sure if Craig and Kidman were more than just friends (there’s an awkward discussion about it in the film, but I can’t tell if Kidman was trying to make her character say it unbelievably or if she just really couldn’t act it out right). The whole thing seemed like a rushed accident that Warner had to rush to the hospital and doctor so it could limp its way into theaters and save a bit of face for the investors.
Really, a modern day remake of The Invasion could have been excellent. The film certainly wasn’t boring I was just never scared; for a film that has aliens vomiting their DNA into people’s mouths to get them converted, I should’ve been wetting my pants in every scene. Instead I just yawned through the talking scenes and had rapt attention for the car chase sequences (seriously—flaming Molotov to the top of the car that stays lit the entire time? How the hell isn’t that cool.) before finally going back to yawning. It’s a curious result for a film that looked as visually stunning as The Invasion, but I suppose that’s marketing for you…always polishing the turds up nice and shiny.
Calling The Invasion a “turd”, is, admittedly, a bit harsh as there are a few redeemable qualities. The action sequences are well done and the unintentional (I’m sure, anyway) hilarious moment of Nicole Kidman’s character throwing an infected child against a wooden bed frame to knock him out had me laughing for a solid minute before I realized I should stop. Craig was also admittedly suave in this pre-Bond role, but nowhere near as useful as he could have been in terms of secondary character. We rarely saw him on screen and when he was he seemed to only be there to smile and be pretty.
I think the films biggest issue is that it was made to feel like a British action film of sorts (I had Hot Fuzz vibes when it came to the directing style) and when that’s attempted in an American film…it just comes off horribly. The underused characters, either primary or secondary, were weak and sorely underdeveloped and the overall style of the film simply felt disjointed and awkward at times. We wanted to be scared by the zombie like mob moving through D.C., but instead we just look down at the clock and wonder when this film might be over.
The Invasion could have been much better than it was…and perhaps it would have been a quirky, small audience title had Warner released in its original form as directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. With hope, we’ll see a directors cut release one day, but for now this The Invasion can be put in the Rental category.
Standard amaray case, standard menu system. Like most of Warner’s titles lately, The Invasion comes in a single disc edition without inserts or slipcovers and only static menus with music over them. The Invasion has a maddening transfer at times, with it rearing a bit of compression and grain that looks horrid, to some absolutely beautiful exterior shots. Still, aside from a few of those brief moments, The Invasion pulls of an excellent video transfer while delivering an engrossing audio mix that has effects popping out of the rears on more than one occasion.
Moving onto the extras we have a mix of featurettes and documentaries. First up is “We’ve Been Snatched Before: Invasion in Media History” (18:50) which talks about alien invasions in general and is the longest extra on the entire disc. “The Invasion: A New Story” (2:53) goes over this films screenplay, “The Invasion: On the Set” (3:21) gives us some on-set footage from the Washington D.C. set and the final “The Invasion: Snatched” (3:12) goes over the concepts of how aliens would invade without ships or bombs.
There isn’t even an hours worth of extras here and with so much director conflict, I’m not surprised there isn’t a commentary. I’d be curious to see what exactly the original cut contained and would be willing to give the film another viewing. There was certainly some remnants of what could be a good film, it just feels like it was taken from a serious film about alien invasion and turned into one that was more summer friendly with explosions (flaming Molotov!) and the like. As with the film, this DVD is worth a Rental only.
The Invasion is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray and will arrive on HD-DVD on February 19th.