Invasion, The (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: BCBC=B
Budget: $80 million
Box Office: $15 million US, $25 million Int'l

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel, who’s made a handful of German movies, but nothing you’d recognize. An uncredited assistant director was James McTeigue, who has worked on the Matrix movies, Star Wars 2, and Dark City. Joel Silver also had a hand in this.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond, and Jeffrey Wright.

It’s yet another remake of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Space Shuttle crashes, bringing with it an alien microbe that infects people via bodily fluids and then takes them over when they enter REM sleep, turning them into emotionless members of a hive rather than independent human beings.

Entertainment Value: B
It’s hard to go too wrong remaking such a classic that’s been remade before. This isn’t quite as good as either of the two previous, of course, but it’s still pretty engaging, if implausible. I will say this in the interests of spoiling the plot, there’s just not supposed to be such a thing as a zombie movie where everything works out alright in the end. It never did in the other movies, but here pretty everyone returns to normal. I guess that’s American filmmaking in the year 2007.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sexuality B, Violence C, Language C, Illegality C
Nicole Kidman appears in semi-transparent clothing in a few early scenes, there’s plenty of vulgarity deriving from the transmission mechanism of vomiting contaminants on people, and there’s a fair amount of violence, including killings, beatings, and a hypodermic injected into someone’s heart. The language is about average for PG-13.

Significant Content: C
This movie is really asking one simple question and then giving the answer rather obviously: would humans be better off without free will and all the problems that come from it? No. A much lesser importance theme is the power of science to deliver us from almost anything, even the problems caused by science. Everything else is so minor compared to this overall point that there’s not much need to mention it.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
Good art lets you draw the conclusions out of it or else tells them to you in so obvious a way that you understand it’s meant for kids. This is some weird blend of both, being intended for adults but carrying too many cliffs notes for themes to be interesting as art. It’s just a little too aware of its own message in a way that the originals were not. They surely gave you things to think about, but they didn’t tell you to think about them. Also, I didn’t like the way the story was told out of order but only enough to be confusing, not enough to be a part of the artwork.

Discussion Questions:
~What does it mean to be civilized? What are some of the compromises we make in the interests of being civilized? How would you know if the efforts to civilize people went too far? Would you be willing to give up emotion to eliminate all crime? What else would be lost in the process?
~Why do you think God made mankind, even though we are capable of so much evil? If you were God, would you prefer to make men just as they are or as they are under the alien infection? What are the advantages and defects of each alternative? Is it fair to say that when people try to eliminate problems by eliminating the freedom that leads to them that they are saying God made a mistake in giving us freedom? How important is sin to human nature?
~What’s the difference between choosing to be good and being incapable of choosing anything else? Do we get moral credit for doing what we had no inclination to not do?
~Some people criticize Christianity as being a religion that makes people into something like the alien infection here. How might this criticism have validity, and how might it be mistaken? Is this perception our fault or their fault? Does becoming Christian make people less human or more human?
~How do mood controlling drugs prescribed for adults and children differ from the alien invasion?
~In this movie, the “real” humans win and feel triumphant. What if the “alien” humans had won. Would your opinion of this movie have been different if it had been told from the point of view of the aliens?
~Have you ever wished you could turn off painful emotions?
~How rational is too rational? How scientific is too scientific?
~How might this movie be used as an argument for enhanced arts and poetry education?
~It’s been said that humans are the only creature with no natural predators. Given the existence of infectious disease, would you agree with this? Why did God allow infectious diseases?
~If you had to behave emotionlessly in order to survive in such a situation, do you think you could do so? If real life actors could portray the emotionless people in the movie, why was it so unthinkable that Kidman couldn’t blend in as a character in the movie?
~Is it good for children to ever see movies that depict undesirable things happening to them when they go to sleep?
Overall Grade: B
It’s surely not the original, the ending action sequence is just silly, and it’s got more content issues than I’d prefer. But given all that, it’s not terrible.

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