The Invasion (2007)

(In theaters, August 2007) By now, “pod people” is such a well-known expression that any film attempting another treatment of the subject has to do better than just going through the motions in order to keep our attention. Alas, this fourth cinematic take on the story since 1953 is as bland as its title: the first half hour is particularly annoying as the filmmakers seem happy to re-invent the wheel all over again, seemingly unaware that we’ve seen all of this before. Things improve slightly once the invasion properly gets underway: The film shows effective signs of post-production desperation (by inter-cutting a number of cause-and-effect scenes together, for instance), ending with a series of meaningless action scenes that work well at waking up the viewers in time for the end credits. Otherwise, well, it’s full generic mode as the film lurches from one plot point to another. Occasional projectile vomiting may be good for a laugh or two, but there’s little else to enjoy here. Even the actors seem determined to out-dull the emotionless aliens. Thematically, perhaps the most intriguing thing about this twenty-first century take on the basic premise is a muted wistfulness for the simplicity of the “being alien” solution. Yet that theme is better expressed in one late line (“For better of for worse, we’re human again”) than an entire scene around a dinner table. “You won’t feel a thing,” promise the aliens, “you’ll wake up as if nothing had happened.” For the viewers of the film, that’s only too true.

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