Republicans invade Earth!!!

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Lurching along at a slow, deadly, zombie-like pace, they shamble up Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, grabbing and infecting everyone who’s not … One Of Them.
Is it a documentary about the first days of the Bush administration? Have the Republicans finally decided to simply invade the whole earth, including America?
No such luck, dear friends.

It’s just a remake of the iconic 1956 sci-fi thriller “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” moved from a small California town to Washington, D.C. and retitled “The Invasion” for those of us with shorter attention spans.

Furthermore, it stars Nicole Kidman as a psychiatrist/hero, Daniel Craig as a doctor/sidekick, and Jackson Bond as J.A.C.K. (That’s “Just Another Cute Kid.”)

This second remake of Jack Finney’s magazine serial is basically a creepy alien-invasion story capitalizing on that, you know, eerie feeling we all get from time to time that everyone around us has turned into a mindless replica of themselves and is out to do us in.

(I mean, we all DO have that feeling, don’t we? Hmm? Or am I just being, as my wife insists, a paranoid pod-person?)

Anyway, from what I hear they had trouble with the script and the direction and the cinematography, and so it went way over budget and didn’t get too much better. Reportedly the Wachowski (“The Matrix”) brothers were brought in to restage some of the stupid car chases, but not much could make up for Oliver Hirschbiegel’s claustrophobic direction.

With all that going against it, it’s still pretty scary stuff. At the beginning, anyway. At least there is a convincing-enough amount of scientific jibber-jabber and computerized gamma-goblins swimming upstream to spawn in your bloodstream, while Nicole struggles to figure out why her psychiatric patients are telling her, “My husband isn’t my husband!”

Well, of course the aliens start to take over, and being all psychically interconnected, they refuse to have wars with each other, so a major epidemic of Peace breaks out, which naturally freaks out everyone who isn’t already an alien.

Can’t have that. Peace on earth? Pshaw!

At the beginning of the invasion, the pet dogs of Washington sense things are different, of course. Dogs always know these things.

(I used to have an Alien Hound myself. He wouldn’t bark at anyone except outer space critters, so he spent most of his time sleeping on the front porch. Turns out there are only a handful of Martians in Staunton, and most everyone knows who they are, anyway.)

So it’s rolling along getting scarier and scarier, and then Nicole’s Cute Little Kid makes his appearance. I knew right then that this film wasn’t going to have the same very cool grim ending as the original. After all, Hollywood rarely bumps off Cute Little Kids.

Actually, Nicole Kidman is pretty good, no matter what kind of movie she is in. I never really thought I’d see a Kidman movie I couldn’t enjoy – but that was before “Moulin Rouge,” of course. But in this one she’s reasonably convincing, and if you care to see her in a far scarier film, catch the DVD of “The Others,” circa 2001. That’n will get your nightmares a-hummin’ for sure.

By the way, if you ARE a big fan of stupid car chases, there are a couple of humdingers in “The Invasion.” They’re just not my thing, and I’d gladly sponsor legislation to ban all car chases from all movies forever.

(Yeah, I know. But my dad was an old grouch, too.)

So it plays out like this: As usual, the really best version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is the original 1956 number that played on our collective paranoia about a couple of Joes (Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Uncle Joe Stalin). Second best is the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland, and bringing up the rear is this new one, currently showing at the Staunton Mall.

Summer’s not over, so there are still some flashy action pics coming, to be followed by the somber, Academy Award Nomination-aimed serious artsy-fartsy cinema of the fall.

So keep the popcorn warm. There’s something for everyone rollin’ down the pike.

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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