The Invasion

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Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Rated 14A.

The Invasion is the fourth film adaptation of American author Jack Finney's classic sci-fi satire, "The Body Snatchers", which was originally serialized in Collier's magazine in 1954. It was filmed in 1956 and 1978 as Invasion of the Body Snatchers one of the best B-movie titles ever, right up there with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and again in '93 as the so-so-named Body Snatchers. Did we really need another version, this one with the lamest title adjustment yet?

Nicole Kidman does her desperate best to make us think so. She plays besieged Washington, D.C., psychiatrist Carol Bennell, in the throes of an ugly divorce from federal disease-control expert Tucker Kaufman (a weaselly-looking Jeremy Northam). Kaufman is called in to investigate possible contamination from the wreckage of a disintegrated space shuttle. He peers into a microscope and proclaims: "One thing's for sure, it ain't from around here."

When the fed gets home that night his dog growls at him, so we know he's contracted the alien germ. Sure enough, later in bed he undergoes a freaky podlike transformation, and by morning he's got even less personality than he did the day before. While he conducts an arrogant, Tony Snow like press briefing, infected servers puke into the media's refreshments. Before long the virus has spread across the globe, bringing world peace and an end to suffering. It seems like all the animosity on Earth is being sucked away, along with human emotion. Maybe the aliens' laid-back approach to life isn't so bad after all.

Bennell disagrees and refuses to go quietly into the androidlike realm. At one point a dozen or so "snatched bodies" pile on top of her speeding sedan, trying to convince her of the joys of conforming. As ridiculous as The Invasion gets, its competent acting, fast pace, and campy B-movie vibe keep you weirdly transfixed against your better judgment. The paranoia and distress that Kidman portrays especially when she's trying to rescue her uninfected young son from the clutches of her transformed ex proves nearly as contagious as the apparently unstoppable virus from space”¦ Or maybe that's just her incredible hotness seeping through.