Friday, October 5, 2007

The Invasionformers - Robot Pod People In Disguise

The LaGrange has been closed the last couple weeks on Monday and Tuesdays for "renovations", so tonight was the first night I could make it out this week to see a cheap movie. I hope that "renovations" doesn't mean "you'll shortly be paying more to see movies here". I guess I'll wait and see.

There were many movies to choose from at the LaGrange tonight.

Simpsons Movie - I saw this in a first-run theater. I'd like to see it again, but prolly won't review as Two Buck Schmuck. I have no snarky things to say about it - how can you lambast a movie that shows Bart's doodle and has a Spider-Pig?
Live Free Or Die Hard - Seen it!
Transformers - "Directed By Michael Bay" are not four words I am generally happy to find strung together.
The Invasion - Hey, I'll see this one!

I saw the Philip Kaufman directed Invasion of the Body Snatchers back when I was a kid, and it scared the bejeebus out of me. I thought it was great, especially the ending, with the creepy trees and Donald Sutherland screaming. Just a little side note, those strange trees really do exist. I went out for a walk when I was at a conference in San Francisco and stumbled upon the location where they shot that last scene for the movie. I still don't know what kind of trees they are. I tried asking people in the vicinity about the trees, but they only told me I should lay down and take a nap, and asked me if I would hold their pod plant for them.

In my twenties, I saw the original, which is short, snappy and very well-made. Hey, it was made by the fantastic director Don Siegel - how could it *not* be great?

I have yet to see the Abel Ferrara remake Body Snatchers, but I have heard it's pretty good.

Anyways, this is a film that has been remade a couple times, and at least the original and one of the remakes were great. So, I was curious about this version. And now I am no longer curious, having seen it.

It's not that great.

In the two versions I have seen, there were pod plants that produced replacements for human beings. It was one of the cooler aspects of the films, as the protagonists eventually stumbled upon the enormous logistical operation that was being undertaken to transport pods across the country. One of the best parts of the original was when Kevin McCarthy's character jumps into the back of a truck and realizes it is full of pods.

In this film, the infection begins with a space shuttle crash, where the many pieces of the exploding shuttle fall across parts of the United States, and carry some very robust alien organism. The organism enters a couple people's bloodstreams, who then proceed to vomit into assorted beverages and give them to their unsuspecting loved ones. You think I am trying to be funny, don't you? I'm not. That's what they do. Well, they can also vomit on your face, which works almost as well. But the aliens really like throwing up in coffee. Go figure. So you take out the cool pod plants being carted this and way and that, and you replace it with vomiting. It frankly looked a little silly, though it was played so seriously. The whole film took itself waaaaay too seriously.

One of my favorite character actors Jeffrey Wright has a relatively important part in this film, where he has the unfortunate responsibility of delivering expository dialogue informing us of the scientific mumbo-jumbo underlying all the vomiting and the people-becoming-emotionless-dweebs. I was a little surprised that his character didn't follow the arc that Leonard Nimoy's character did in the 1978 version. It's a crime when Mr. Wright is underutilized in a film. Yes, I am calling the people responsible for The Invasion criminals.

Nicole Kidman is the lead. She's fine, I guess. One of the first scenes involves her in a very, very thin white undershirt (attention, nipples!), which is always a nice way to introduce a strong female character. She's got a kid, whose well-being is presumably supposed to be the focus of much suspense and tension. I dunno -- he was just some cutesy child actor -- make him a pod person, what do I care? My favorite part of the movie actually occurs in a scene between Kidman and her son. She's been infected (vomit on the face, not vomit in a cup), and is trying to stay awake. She tells her son to stab her in the heart with a hypodermic needle if she falls asleep. Surprisingly, this did not phase the kid at all. It's all these videogames and cop shows today, desensitizing children from stabbing their parents in the heart with hypodermic needles!

I don't want to spoil the ending for you, so I'll ROT13 encode it (use my decoder on the right sidebar to decrypt the text): Vg fhpxf!

So I get out of the theater, and it's only 10:30pm. I took a quick glance around as I left Theater 2, then snuck into Theater 1, where the 9:20pm showing of Transformers was already in progress.

I stayed for about twenty minutes. I didn't stay for the ending, because I don't hate myself.

The little scene I saw was like an extremely crappy version of the Joe Dante film Small Soldiers, which itself was an extremely crappy version of the Joe Dante film Gremlins. So, in a nutshell, it was a third-rate Joe Dante ripoff made by the guy who brought the moviegoing public the shittiest film ever made.



Dale said...

Bay bashing aside and with no foreknowledge of The Transformers except that it was a phenomenon, I liked it although it was a bit long.

Although I figured out your encoded thought on The Invaders, I verified just to be sure.

Johnny Yen said...

I am so with you on Armageddon! I had hopes for it, despite it being a Bay/Shlockheimer production. I mean, how can you go wrong with a movie that's got Fargo guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, as well as Keith David, Will Patton and other great actors, on top of a special effects budget bigger than the GNP of a third of the countries in the world? They managed it. I saw it for free on television, and at the end of it, wanted my three hours back. What a piece of shit. And I wanted them to go ahead and let the damned asteroid fall on Liv Tyler, so she'd stop blubbering.

dguzman said...

Love your encoder, dude! I wondered what it was for.

Vomiting? I mean, do they show Kidman vomiting? Or Craig? That would be criminal indeed. So wrong. What's with Kidman that she keeps picking these lame ass remake movies like Bewitched and this one and Stepford Wives? She wins an Oscar and all of a sudden her ability to detect good scripts just atrophies. Gees.

BeckEye said...

Wow, I could swear this movie JUST came out and it's already at the cheap theater? That's the giant red flag right there. I'll wait for the edited version on TNT.

Splotchy said...

dale, one should never set aside bashing of Michael Bay. It should always be the centerpiece of any discussion or Thanksgiving meal. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.

jy, we should start a "I Saw Armageddon And Was Permanently Scarred By It" support group.

dguzman, Craig had no onscreen puking. Kidman was a vomitee, not a vomiter.

beckeye, if you wait until it hits TNT, all the vomiting is going to be cut out. Is that what you really want?!