Making the Grades
The body snatchers have returned in this movie remake, and this time the deadly alien virus that turns emotional humans into apathetic zombies sweeps across the US after a horrific re-entry disaster breaks the space shuttle apart, showering contaminated fragments all over the country.
When the disease tries to come between Dr. Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) and her son Oliver (Jackson Bond), the intelligent psychiatrist will do anything to protect her child. Working with her colleague and friend Ben (Daniel Craig) and crack-shot researcher Dr. Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), the trio frantically searches to find a way to extinguish the wildfire epidemic.
Making matters worse, Bennell's ex-husband Tucker (Jeremy Northam) is a leader at the Center for Disease Control, yet he is suspiciously ambivalent about the raging situation. That's a bad sign, because the only way of knowing who has been affected by the bug from outer space is by observing their emotions -- or lack thereof. With most of the population showing symptoms and Washington DC turning into a police state, those who haven't been infected must avoid detection by doing everything they can to suppress their human reactions to the harrowing events surrounding them.
For those who have seen the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1978, the story here is familiar, with the exception of the mother-child relationship -- and there's not much that can pull an audience into a plot easier than that. In this regard, Kidman comes up to the plate with a home run performance as she struggles to stay awake because the virus can only propagate throughout her body during deep sleep. Fortunately her character has plenty of reasons to keep her eyes open as she madly fights her way through utter mayhem in an attempt to save her son.
Of course that means lots of violent depictions for parents to think about before taking younger family members to see this film. Car crashes abound, such as one very abrupt and shocking pedestrian accident when a woman is hit by speeding car. Another troubling moment shows a couple committing suicide by jumping from a building. Later, Carol is faced with an onslaught of "snatchers" and shoots half-a-dozen opponents to make her escape.
Thankfully, other content is minimal, including a few moderate and mild profanities, infrequent terms of deity used as expletives, as well as some women shown in their underwear and an adult couple kissing. As well, drug content rises after Kidman's character breaks into a pharmacy and takes numerous pills in an effort to stay awake.
One other concern is the portrayal of the illness itself. Those who have it become covered in a mucous-like coating while catching some shut-eye, and spread it by spewing green vomit onto those not yet part of the growing society. Post-infection, people feel they are living in bliss, making them highly motivated to spread their germs. Suddenly newscasts are full of stories of resolutions to wars and conflict around the world, but only Carol and the handful of others seem to recognize the high price this new utopian world has exacted on personal freedom.
Although this new invasion has more intensity than its predecessor, its premise is bound to create conversation afterwards about the importance of human expression and choice. And that discussion may be a reason to consider sharing this relatively good, popcorn thriller with your older teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Invasion.
In this movie, those who are infected by the virus no longer want to wage conflict with one another (although they are certainly aggressive towards those who are not yet infected). Would it be tempting to “inoculate” the citizens of Earth with a drug that would remove their emotions? What price do we pay for our human traits?
One of the characters in the movie feels violence and other primal instincts are what make people human. Do you think it is possible for personal freedom and a peaceful society to co-exist?
A man says of another man, who is of Russian decent, “He is a Russian. He needs to argue like he needs to breathe.” Are such generalities of a nation’s citizens fair or correct? What generality would you use to describe people from your country?