Another Century, Another Space 'Invasion' The Body Snatchers remake, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, proves the pulp classic is still startlingly in tune with the U.S. zeitgeist.
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Another Century, Another Space 'Invasion'

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Another Century, Another Space 'Invasion'

Review

Arts & Life

Another Century, Another Space 'Invasion'

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

When "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" arrived in movie theaters back in 1956, it was a B-movie about zombies. Twenty years later, director Philip Kaufman came out with an artier remake. Now comes a version starring an Oscar winner, "The Invasion," with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times. He says the story is just as powerful now as it was when it was first filmed.

KENNETH TURAN: The core of the tale remains as it was conceived by science-fiction writer Jack Finney. Mysterious entities from outer space - pods in the original, spores in the current version - attempt to take over the world by creating zombie-like replicas of everyone and his brother.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Invasion")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) Don't show emotion. Then they can't tell who's who.

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (As character) John.

Unidentified Man: (As character) Stay calm.

Unidentified Man: (As character) Jan!

Unidentified Woman: (As character) Just leave us alone. What's wrong with you people?

Unidentified Man: (As character) Come on. Come on.

TURAN: Gradually, a few folks catch on and attempt to save the beleaguered human race.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Invasion")

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) You need to get to the Carlson Building. It has a landing pad.

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) We're almost there. He's close.

TURAN: "Invasion" has been brought up to the minute, with characters who text message each other and references to Iraq, Darfur and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. More to the point, it remains fascinating how effortlessly the story dovetails with whatever is troubling in the zeitgeist, which today includes worries about global pandemics and the excessive powers of governments gone wild.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Invasion")

Mr. DANIEL CRAIG (Actor): (As Ben Driscoll) The roadblock we saw, that's just the beginning. They've set up quarantine.

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): (As character) Stay within the barricade.

Mr. CRAIG: (As Driscoll) They're sealing off this part of the city.

Unidentified Man #4: (As character) Form a line.

Ms. NICOLE KIDMAN: (As Carol Bennell) No, no, no. No. I have to get to Baltimore.

TURAN: Given that almost anyone who goes to see "The Invasion" will know its storyline, the film makes the shrewd choice of starting with a flash-forward to the pulse-pounding middle of the film when our heroine, played by Kidman, is ransacking a wrecked pharmacy for pills to keep her awake, because it is while you sleep that the transformation from human to alien takes place. And that is something very much to be avoided.

While parts of the film suffer from unoriginality or implausibility, "Invasion" does very well in conveying the bump-in-the-dark terror of having armies of implacable zombies relentlessly tracking you down like Sherlock Holmes on the trail of an enormous hound.

Kidman and Craig use their considerable talent to bring credibility to a pulp premise. It's kept people up at night for more than 50 years and promises to do so for some time into the future.

MONTAGNE: The movie is "The Invasion." Kenneth Turan is film critic for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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