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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




The Invasion - BRD (and HD Combo)

(Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007)



NOTE: This review is based on the Blu-ray DVD but we understand the HD-combo has the exact same VC-1 encode (on the hi-def side) and the SD is reviewed HERE. 


Review by Leonard Norwitz


Studio: Warner Pictures (USA)

DVD: Warner Home Entertainment



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Feature film: 1080p

99 minutes

Supplements: 1080p



Dolby True HD: English 5.1

English DD 5.1

French DD 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec)

Spanish DD 5.1



English, French & Spanish



• Documentary: We've Been Snatched Before: Invasion in Media History

• Featurette: The Invasion: A New Story

• Featurette: The Invasion: On the Set

• Featurette: The Invasion: Snatched


28 chapters on 1 disc

Standard Blu-ray case

Release Date: January 29, 2008



The Invasion ~ Comment

Have you ever wondered about our endless fascination with invasion: in the movies and television, in geopolitics and religion?  Ever since we had the capacity to understand the concept, we have been afraid of its manifestation.  We, who were supposedly put on this world to dominate it and its creatures, are mortally afraid of ideas or gods different from our own.  We fear its tiniest invisible creatures on the one hand and those we can only imagine from foreign worlds in what we used to call "outer space" on the other.  Curiously, we seem to enjoy imaginings of beings from outer space attempting to conquer our puny planet and, in at least one instance, winning that fight with the help of those same microscopic creatures that otherwise make us anxious.  The movies we make, the books we write, the studies that absorb us about creatures different from ourselves seem to allow us to understand ourselves in ways that a direct study do not.


While this latest entry in the field is not likely to find much of a place in that vast lexicon of similarly themed sci-fi thrillers (the last one to catch my imagination was David Twohy's 1996 film The Arrival with Charlie Sheen, whose antecedent might have been Britain's 1955 television series, Quatermass II) - The Invasion is, nonetheless, a good ride.  In fact, The Invasion is an unabashed remake of the 1955 and 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  From the extra features we learn that the producers feel that the theme that underlies the story – our fear of an invisible force that has the power to alter our very consciousness – is worth revisiting every couple of decades.  Their rationale is that each of the two previous movies, and this one as well, are products of the sociopolitical times in which they were made, and that audiences will respond accordingly.  Thus, Don Siegel's 1955 version reflected fears about communism and Phil Kaufman's remake arrived in the context of cults and new age ideologies. The new film considers our fears of microbic infection – so they say.




I admit that I did not respond to any of these movies the way The Invasion's filmmakers expected most folks would.  In 1955 I failed to see the communist connection, not because I didn't know that it was in the air, but because I never believed in its power alleged by the FBI and our state department.  I have read that none of this was on Siegel's mind in the first place, though unconscious forces might have been at play.  What I find interesting is that the present filmmakers say they made their movie with deliberate intent to reflect our fears about infection: AIDS, SARS et al.  My feeling is that to the degree that The Invasion is about this fear, it is a failure.  In fact, while watching the movie my response was that the flu-infection bit was only an ingenious ploy to give the "bad guys" an excuse to go around and "inoculate" the population so that they didn't have to tip their hand too obviously, especially given that the invaders' main spokesman worked for the Center for Disease Control.




The one thing that kept pestering me about the screenplay is how animated the converted humans are – not so much in the sense of mobility, but in their passion and what I can only describe as their rage (to wit: the census taker), which goes against the idea that all that is left after conversion or absorption is the shell of the person on the one hand, or that life will have no pain afterward on the other.  Determination (as in the previous versions of the story, is a lot different from fervor.  I don't feel you could have it both ways.




Considering the cataclysmic consequences of this particular invasion, the solution smacked of 1960 Star Trek in its ease, something a reporter or two raised at the end.  In fact it's hard not to notice that with each succeeding film version of the story, the audience learns more about the invaders, which ought to come as a surprise when we consider how unsophisticated we think all who came before us were.  What I like about the 1955 version, and what makes it compelling to return to, is how little we know about the origin of the spores.  I find that more frightening than some foreign disease that our science has a shot a controlling.  That said, it's hard not to smile approvingly at the ending of the new movie, reminding us in its own perverse way, to beware of what you wish for.



The Invasion ~ The Score Card


The Movie : 6

This latest film version of Jack Finney's original magazine serial is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the fellow responsible for the 2004 look at the dismal goings on in Hitler's bunker in its final days, Der Untergang (Downfall).  Here elements of both previous versions are at play: As in the 1955 version, the protagonist is a doctor, passionate about the destruction of humanity about her, but similarly helpless.  In all three versions, the transformation happens while sleeping, and being able – or not – to remain awake becomes an important piece of the suspense.  Like Kaufman's 1978 film, and unlike Siegel's, the action takes place in a metropolis - in this case, Washington, D.C.  And like Kaufman, an homage and connection to its predecessor is made in choosing an actor whose character survived the final scene to warn the new protagonist of the invaders: Kevin McCarthy and Veronica Cartwright, respectively. 


This time, Veronica complains to her psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) that her husband is not her husband – and we all know where that is going to lead.  Almost overnight the infection had been transmitted from a returning space shuttle.  One of its first victims is Kidman's ex-husband (Jeremy Northam) who happens to work for the CDC (how convenient and cool is that!)  Their young son is visiting his father when Kidman puts 2+2 together.  Her boyfriend (Daniel Craig) helps out in the chase while their microbe specialist friend (Jeffrey Wright) works feverishly to find a cure.


Image : 8 (8-8.5/9)

The score of 8 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a 10-point scale.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.


The picture quality is fairly good here – not nearly as awesome or as sharp as the best Blu-ray discs so far – but on any high quality display should not fail to please.  The overall image tends be grainy, in keeping with the intent of the material. The integration of CG effects, except for the crash landing of the shuttle (which is far from convincing), is largely not problematic since they are usually seen through a microscope.


One curiosity regards aspect ratio: readers of the Beaver must be aware of the frequency of incorrectly configured aspect ratio in public places: sports bars, doctor's offices, even in home theatre retail stores that should know better.  Well, in the opening news flash of The Invasion, you will observe that several of the shots are incorrectly stretched.  Here's an example (first capture):
















Audio & Music : 8/7

Nothing to complain nor write home about here.


Operations : 7

We should all write letters of appreciation to Warner as they generally get right to the movie before we've had time to return to our seats. The menu, though in no way taking advantage of the medium, is straightforward. As is typical with Warner Blu-rays, the slightly expanding thumbnails are not titled. 


Extras : 5

The three featurettes are each only a couple of minutes and hardly give us much of a look at things behind the scenes.  The 19 minute documentary: We've Been Snatched Before is more a look at recent microbial facts and fears than a review of other snatcher movies – damn!



Recommendation: 7

Worth seeing, especially for Invasion enthusiasts who want to compare this one to the 1955 and 1978 versions.  Nicole looks great, perhaps too much so, which I found something of a distraction.  Craig is underused.  Tension is high, though rarely compelling.


Leonard Norwitz
January 19th, 2007


NOTE: This review is based on the Blu-ray DVD but we understand the HD-combo has the exact same VC-1 encode (on the hi-def side) and the SD is reviewed HERE. 



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