'The Invasion'

Remake hurt by an unseemly flu

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Hunger, poverty, war and crime come to an end. It's on TV and in all the papers. But the dogs know something is up. They growl. That's why the mild-mannered folks who have stopped changing their facial expressions, losing their temper or getting excited start wringing the animals' necks.

"The Invasion" is a perfectly watchable, agreeably paranoid remake of that most paranoid of last-humans-on-Earth contagion movies, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." But coming as it does after "28 Days Later," "28 Weeks Later," "Dawn of the Dead" and the like -- and just ahead of Will Smith's December "I Am Legend" -- it can seem quaint.

Not the fault of the cast, though. Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman stars as Carol, a psychiatrist who starts to notice everyone seems "a little disconnected." Not just the ones she's medicating, either. And it all started when the Space Shuttle Patriot crashed.

Nicole Kidman stars in "The Invasion," a remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
Click photo for larger image.

'The Invasion'

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig.
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Rating: R for language.
'The Invasion' web site

People have seizures in the streets. Hysterics run up to her car shrieking "We've got to warn people!"

The government keeps saying "It's the flu." Her ex-husband (Jeremy Northam), a honcho with the Centers for Disease Control, keeps that message out there. Calmly. In the flat intonations of the brainwashed. Carol is hesitant about letting their son, Oliver (Jackson Bond), go visit. But you know the courts and visitation rights.

"Something's wrong with my dad," Oliver texts her. "My husband is not my husband," a patient insists. Ben (Daniel Craig), the doctor-beau she keeps at arm's length, and the beau's researcher-pal (Jeffrey Wright) start to put it all together.

Whatever you do, they realize, don't fall asleep. That's when the disease takes root and takes over.

Earlier versions came out during the Red Scare of the 1950s and the Watergate/Nixon-is-spying-on-us 1970s. But the script doesn't find ways to comment on our fearful times.

Mid- to late August is a stretch when studios tend to unload movies that aren't very good. "The Invasion" doesn't fail so miserably as to warrant dumping. But a movie in which the infected win converts by vomiting in their coffee, or in their open mouths, is going to be a hard sell any time.

Even the dogs know that.


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