We have had film versions of Jack Finney’s 1955 novel “The Body Snatchers” in 1956, 1978 and 1993, and then again in 2007. In terms of directorial inventiveness, moody tension and visual splendor, the first two movies are vastly better than the latter two. However, the fourth and latest is not the failure that many critics have lambasted it as. Instead of being horrific, it opts for a more pensive stance, starring an idealistic protagonist who believes in the betterment and progress of human civilization, thus questioning which are really the better people: the humans or the alien invaders.
Set in a current world situation of war in the Middle-East, religious violence and hurricane disasters that do not receive proper relief aid, the movie pits the failure of human civilization against the successful co-operation and abolishment of world problems that the alien invasion brings with it. The protagonist – Nicole Kidman in her habitual good performance – is then confronted with a choice: who are really the good guys here – us or them? The movie does not provide a decisive answer, but leaves the question open to the audience. This is very well done.
Excitementwise, the movie does fall somewhat short, as it offers neither anything substantially new, nor anything particularly out of the ordinary. For a sci-fi/horror effort, it must be said to be rather tame. The entertainment value is decent, but, since it’s a remake, the story is admittedly marred by our already knowing what is going on. Even so, the movie does manage not to be boring, and Nicole Kidman is, as always, a delight to watch – she is one of the few actresses, in this reviewer’s opinion, who just get better-looking with age.
All in all, not a bad movie, if not an immortal classic, either.
My 2008 DVD version is very nice indeed. In addition to subtitles it contains three featurettes about this version of the story, and also a documentary about the previous versions, and alien invasions in media history generally. Rather impressive, don’t you know! 🙂