<em>The Invasion</em>, the third remake of the 1956 film <em>Invasion of the Body Snatchers</em>, succeeds largely because of its lovely star, Nicole Kidman, a psychiatrist who's responsible for stopping the bad guys.

For a production that ran through three directors, The Invasion really isn’t so bad. It’s almost saved by the bastion of bad movies, Nicole Kidman, who’s somehow dignified and sexy even when the films she graces ( The Human Stain, Eyes Wide Shut , and Batman Forever ) have four legs and bark boldly at the mail delivery person. Actually, that’s part of the plot here: Our canine friends are capable of detecting zombies from outer space-not that it does the pooches any good.

This third remake of the 1956 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers is oddly without ideology. Like its predecessors, the plot revolves around an encroaching alien invasion. Here it’s psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Kidman) who’s responsible for stopping the impending attack. Both the original and the 1978 versions explored creepy dehumanization, while Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers (1993) seemed more like a demented myth. So, this film’s reluctance to take a swipe at those undead who voted for Bush twice is thus puzzling. It does, however, make a strong case that humans are capable of any atrocity imaginable, but then blames a virus for the looming disaster.

And of the three directors? Warner Bros, unhappy with Oliver Hirschbiegel ( Das Untergang ), who shot this film two years ago, called in the Wachowski brothers for a rewrite, then re-shot two thirds of Invasion using director James McTiegue ( V for Vendetta ).

Considering all this meddling, the film is still surprisingly coherent. The problem is this version is the studio’s idea of terrible transformation, so conformity actually gets some sympathy. Not a dumb idea, but then the bland ending manages to sell everybody out. But who expected better when even the 1956 version had to face meddling studio problems throughout production? After all, killing off cooperative consumers just makes corporations uncomfortable.


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