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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Science Ficiton > Thriller > Mystery > Literature > The Invasion (2007; HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format) + Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – Collector’s Edition (1978/MGM DVD Set)

The Invasion (2007/Warner HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format) + Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – Collector’s Edition (1978/MGM DVD Set)


Picture: B+/C+/B-     Sound: A-/B-/C+     Extras: C-/B     Film: C-/B



PLEASE NOTE: The HD-DVD has been discontinued, but is available on Blu-ray with the same impressive sound mix, while the 1978 version arrived on Blu-ray and can be found at this link:





Now, the original text…


There is the best way to do a remake and the wrong way.  When it comes to Don Siegel’s 1956 classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, you have a film and a book so key (like Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend) that has several official film versions and endless imitators.  Besides the many imitators, there are three remakes and we will look at the 4th and 2nd versions here.


One of last years biggest bombs, The Invasion casts Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in what would seem to have been a winning combination on screen in a new interpretation going bonkers with microorganisms.  They are good, there is definitely money up on the screen, there are some great visual shots, a bit of suspense and a few creepy moments, but this cut is butchered, obviously shortened, badly edited and is overall tired quickly.


Kidman is a mom and psychiatrist who has separated from her husband (James McAvoy) and is suddenly seeing strange things happen.  The most direct early sign is when one of her nicest patients (Veronica Cartwright from the 2nd version and Ridley Scott’s Alien) feels her husband is not who he used to be; not the same person.  Yes, we have heard this before, but nobody in the film seems to have.


This cut has no one talking about the previous three films or similar pop culture, but David Kajganich’s screenplay cannot overcome a sense of déjà vu on the previous remakes and offers nothing new.  Andy & Larry Wachowski (The Matrix) were brought in for rewrites, but that did not help.  Tireder still is the idea of the alien microbe coming back on an exploding space shuttle (a combination of a bad idea and too similar to Species 2 to boot) as well as an annoying series of faux HDTV news broadcasts showing the situation as it develops and changes, whether the media is aware or not.


If you somehow missed the previous three version, you might be briefly fooled that this is better than it is, but by the end, it is more action that substance and under Joel Silver’s production tends to dump the story to be another one of his action pieces.  Though Oliver Hirschbiegel directed most of the film and is not only credited as sole director, he is celebrated as such in the supplements, James McTeigue from V For Vendetta (see the Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) did more than a few reshoots and it did not seem to make any difference.  Though I am curious to see the other versions, I doubt it would improve things much.


Far better is the surprisingly good 1978 first remake by Philip Kaufmann that is the best of the remakes, cleverly picking up where the classic leaves off and clearly remaining the most chilling of the four.  Often badly written off as a warning about new age religion and cults, the W.D. Richter screenplay digs deeper and comes up with a far more well-developed scenario where two health officials (Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams) start to discover unusual things happening beyond their usual territory of rating restaurants.


Then things get worse and before you know it, they are on the run, trying to figure out who has been converted and who has not.  Pacing is excellent, the use of San Francisco is terrific and the rest of the cast including Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum all doing some of the best work of their career makes this one of Kaufmann’s best and maybe most underrated films.


By comparison, with all the innovations the ’78 version came up with, the new 2007 version seems like a sincere imitator at best that just cannot cut it and though fans will want to see it once, others will be very disappointed.  We recommend you watch the four official versions in chronological order starting with the 1956 classic.


Both versions here are 1.85 X 1 (the other two are in scope formats) and MGM/Fox nearly issued the ’78 version in Blu-ray at the time we posted this review, but that version finally arrived in Sept. 2010 and can be found at the link above.  As a result, the HD-DVD side of the 2007 version on the HD Combo disc looked the best of the releases at the time, lensed by Director of Photography Rainer Klausmann, best known for his amazing work on the under seen 2004 drama Downfall, about the end of Hitler.  No doubt Warner and Silver got their money’s worth here, though some shots are softer than expected from stylizing, while the faux HD news pieces are just plain ugly.  The anamorphically enhanced low-def DVD flipside is poor in Video Black, color range and does not do justice to what looked good on the HD side, so much so that it does not look as good as the image from the 1978 DVD.


That is a welcome upgrade from the lame DVD MGM issued eons ago for the film in a basic edition that did not do the film justice.  Now, you can better appreciate Michael Chapman’s amazing camerawork, clever lighting, camera angles and some fine editing that is a textbook example of who to cut a thriller.  Can’t wait to see the Blu-ray, while the 2007 version has a Blu-ray release available.


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on the HD side of the ’07 film is dynamic, well-recorded and a pleasant surprise to the point that it is the highlight of the disc.  Surrounds are used effectively and the mix has some character, though editing down the film seems to have affected the soundtrack.  The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mixes on the HD side and standard Dolby 5.1 on the DVD side are weaker by comparison.  The ’78 version was an early Dolby A-type analog theatrical release, which sounded very harsh on the out of print DVD, but sounds somewhat better here in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix with Pro Logic surrounds.  I still think there is room for improvement if MGM would get the original soundmasters of the William Richter score and upgrade this to a 5.1 mix.  The character of the sound design is actually better than the ’07 version, but the standard Dolby here does not do justice to the sound.


Extras on the 2007 version include three short featurettes: The Invasion: A New Story, The Invasion: On The Set and The Invasion: Snatched, all meant to promote the film.  The longer We’ve Been Snatched Before: Invasion In Media History tries to put the film in a historical context and just never works.  It sites all the other versions of the book, except the 1993 Abel Ferrara version, Body Snatchers, which Warner owns and produced.  It is also creepier than the new ’07 version with an ending they seem to be trying to censor.  They cut that version down, but it actually is beginning to have a sort of cult following, so we’ll see what happens with it.


The ’78 DVD set includes the original theatrical trailer, a fine audio commentary track by Kaufmann and four featurettes: Re-Visitors From Outer Space, or How I learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Pod, Practical Magic: The Special Effects Pod, The Man Behind The Scream: The Sound Effects Pod and The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod.  This is a great set of extras that do a great job covering a classic and an underrated back catalog release.  Nice that it is now available as the ’07 remake hits shelves.


Having now turned out two versions that lost money, let’s hope Warner is through with remaking the Jack Finney classic.  Now, can Paramount get the original out in a special edition?



_   Nicholas Sheffo


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