The Invasion Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Invasion is presented via VC-1 in a stylistic 1.85:1 1080p transfer that does its job pretty well. The film has an occasionally amped-up contrast and a stark, clinical appearance that can be chilly and austere. In fact, for some reason I kept thinking that the movie looked Canadian, so reminiscent is it of Cronenberg's themes and visual aesthetic. There is a finite layer of grain that remains constant and doesn't fluctuate and helps to keep the visuals filmic but, other than that, the print is clean and spotless. The palette has been played about with in post-production and the transfer is probably an accurate representation of that, but I just felt that the predominance of blues and greens distracted me at times. However, this opinion is no reflection on the disc transfer itself, just my own feelings. When called upon, though, there is some terrific colour on display. Daylight street-scenes have a naturalistic sheen to them - lights, vehicles, clothes etc all look fine. The interior of Carol's office is bright and warmly saturated. Skin-tones stray into the ghostly pale side, but this is obviously intentional. The horrific brown-chrysalis that victims fall into when being taken over looks suitably earthy, sticky and unnatural and the occasional splash of blood is realistic enough. Certain colours in scenes seem to have been picked out especially for their emotional or visual significance - the eyes for one thing, especially Kidman's and Craig's, but even the labels on the drugs or the items on the shelves in the store that Carol and her son break into seem to stand out. The bright fireball on the bonnet of the car after a Molotov-cocktail has been heaved at it, glows with a fair degree of intensity but, with the contrast re-jigged, doesn't look quite right. The opening Shuttle-crash features jets of flame, too, and these don't have the warmth and vigour that you would normally associate with such visual effects.
Blacks are very good. Much of the film takes place in subdued interiors or at night and the image does a fine job of keeping shadows solid and lit areas carefully unswamped. Certain scenes have a desaturated look about them, the tense set-piece down in the subway for instance. Detail-wise, there is much on offer, but this is still a fairly soft image compared to many other 1080p releases and doesn't really have any three-dimensional qualities to boast of. However, close-ups are very well defined and reveal oodles of facial texture. Thankfully, there is no worrisome edge enhancement or smearing but there is occasional evidence of artefacts. Overall, though, this is fair transfer but certainly not a patch on the higher rung of hi-def material.
SoundAlthough furnished with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that started with out vigour and some emphatically deep bass, The Invasion ultimately failed to impress with its overall audio delivery. Not that it does anything wrong, mind you, it just doesn't have any oomph or wraparound to really speak of. Hirschbiegal's original intentions for a more talky and intellectual approach possibly have something to do with this, but The Invasion just refuses to come alive during the frequent action scenes. We have cars roaring around the streets and slamming through roadblocks and into other vehicles, but the resulting crash, bang, wallop is terribly subdued. The helicopter-finale may be frantic and adrenaline-fuelled, but loaded with immersive rotors and channel steerage, it isn't. There may only be a scattering of gunshots but even these don't possess a great deal of weight to them, and considering that they all take place in confined spaces there should have been more impact and echo to them.
Dialogue is always clear and distinct and John Ottman's pounding and insistent yet unusually (for him) forgettable score comes over well, without dominating the film, and even possessing some reasonable separation across the front and nice some stereo effects. Ambient noises and discrete effects are actually quite good and well positioned around the soundscape - mobile phones, the ignition of a gas burner, a knock at the door, running feet etc - but there is nothing particularly grand taking place in the rears to speak of. Bass may often seem to engulf the room - which I like - but the film still sounds curiously uninvolving with regards to wraparound excitement.
I've heard both the TrueHD and the optional DD 5.1 tracks. The TrueHD is definitely fuller and richer and with more throbbing bass, but this is still a vaguely underwhelming audio experience.
ExtrasThe three featurettes - A New Story, On The Set and Snatched - aren't worth talking about let alone watching. Pure blink-and-you'll-miss-em EPK drivel. So, the only thing in this package that is worthy of being called a special feature is the 19-minute documentary entitled We've Been Snatched Before: Invasion In Media History. However, this feature only pays lip service to the films and the original book, opting to chronicle the potential mass-threat of new bugs and infections and how Mankind has prepared to fight them off. It is scary stuff, unlike the film, but it is also dealt in broad strokes from a variety of medical experts and scientists who either downplay or seemingly exaggerate the potential risks. Whilst this was a topical addition to the disc, I would really have preferred something that reflected the ongoing fascination with the original premise and how that set-up has evolved to reflect the era in which each film was made. It is also worth pointing out that Jack Finney didn't write the story with McCarthy-style commie-paranoia in mind at all, this is simply how the media and the audiences saw the first film. Subsequent entries have attempted to utilise this allegorical context for their own means. And this latest one makes the most pathetic observations of all and even sledgehammers them home in the belief that the audience doesn't have any brains of their own.
Understandably there is no commentary or serious input from the director, since this is patently not the film that he set out to make.
VerdictThe Invasion may not be as glaringly broken a film as Ridley Scott's theatrical print of Kingdom Of Heaven, and it is highly unlikely that any reinstated footage or alteration will make an improvement akin to Scott's epic project. Basically, it is a fundamentally flawed and wholly unnecessary movie. What little metaphor, allegory or message it purports to have is lit up in huge neon letters that not only insults the intelligence of the viewer, is also vaguely offensive. Ironically, the take-over bid seems to be underway already with Joel Silver and his team brainwashing the audience with their heavy-handed doctrine.
So, The Invasion is a pretty poor movie whichever you cut it. Un-wanted action, TV-weepie style acting and a screenplay that is risible in the extreme. It is also a terrible entry in the, until now, excellent series of movies based around Finney's book. Yet on some cheesy level I still quite enjoyed it. Go figure. Oh, and the other three volunteers for my little experiment all hated it and thought it derivative, contrived and unexciting.
The disc offers a fine video transfer, but the sound ends up being underwhelming, seemingly containing the mix that was intended all along for the original and more pedestrian cut of the film, not this bombastic re-edited version. Extras-wise - forget it.
The Invasion will while away some undemanding time but it is a slap in the face of an acknowledged classic and, at best, eminently forgettable. But if you do find yourself watching this ... I did warn you about that appalling letdown of a finale.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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