San Francisco biologist Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) turns to health inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) for help when her live-in beau begins acting odd — and distant. Matthew and Elizabeth notice that suddenly almost everyone around them has become impassive. When their friends discover a developing doppelgänger in their commercial mud baths, the foursome realizes an alien invasion is under way. Can they stop it?
Rating: 8 out of 10
Philip Kaufman’s 1978 grand and paranoid sci-fi film, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” is the first of three remakes of the franchise of films based on author Jack Finney’s novel. It is pretty unusual that this film was made in the 70’s because remakes were a rare entity then (Oh how we long for those days!). The film completely succeeds in being a total creepfest and stars Donald Sutherland not as the typical stoic hero but as a public health officer who unwittingly stumbles onto aliens among us as plant pods. His associate and best friend, played admirably and believably by the talented Brooke Adams, is actually married to one of the very first creepy victims of the pod people from outer space. She in turn has a tough time making him believe what is going on and at one point he has her seeing a shrink played wonderfully with that wink of the eye glamor by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy in one of his few meaty, non-Spock roles.
Kaufman deftly adds and layers mood, the accurate zeitgeist of the 1970’s, paranoia and even some well placed nudity into this evenly paced mood piece. Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright round out the cast as a frantic couple who get wrapped up in the alien take-over conspiracy and Kaufman extracts just the right hysteria from all of his actors without ever going over the edge and never revealing too much at a time. He manages to intertwine some very strange moments (strangers on the street all behaving eerily and entranced) with some lighthearted scenes of mundane everyday life in San Francisco (mud baths anyone?) but those moments are fleeting and we get back to the very intense undercurrent of fear and impending dread and finality. I may even go as far as to say it plays out as some sort of strange precursor to the goings on over at the X-Files. Keep and eye out for some well placed cameos that pay homage to the 1956 original directed by Don Siegel. Don’t watch this one alone and make sure the doors and windows are locked when you view this one.
Top 5 Movies Shawn Was Right About
I tease my cousin Shawn about his taste in movies a little more than I probably should.
Shawn loves classic, critically-acclaimed cinema as much as I do, but he also loves shoot-em-ups, science-fiction, and action movies I would never even consider watching. He loves the, and I quote, “‘splosions,” and “pew pew.” He said he enjoyed “The A-Team” more than “Black Swan,” and said “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was good.
He can be sentimental, too, for movies like “Shrek Forever After.” He loves TV, which I don’t. But he does a superb job on our sister blog, TV-Tastic.
I ran him through the ringer for his review of “The A-Team” and I figured since I beat him up all the time, I should do a Top 5 list of movies Shawn was right about.
5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: In this case, I thought this installment of the Star Trek film franchise was silly and far too wide a sidestep from the franchise. Shawn, a giant Trekker of the most massive scale, explained to me that I shouldn’t over think it. This is the Star Trek comedy. I hadn’t watched it in a long time and went back for a second viewing. Shawn was right. This is a lighthearted, fun Star Trek adventure that is very accessible and I enjoyed far more the second go around.
4. X-Men: Before going to see this in the theater with Shawn, I really thought it wasn’t going to work. With a massive cast and so many characters to develop in the huge X-Men Universe, I didn’t think they could pull it off. I really wasn’t amped about seeing it, but Shawn really wanted to go. And he was right. It was a blast. The Wolverine performance by Hugh Jackman remains among the best ever in comic book films. I was wrong, yet again.
3. Mr. Brooks: This was a movie I totally would have overlooked. Kevin Costner has passed his peak, and I don’t really seek out his films anymore. But Shawn reviewed this film for us, and based on his recommendation, I checked it out. Very solid little psycho-drama, mystery movie with a really good performance by Costner. Good choice, Shawn.
2. The Other Guys: This was another one of those movies I would have passed over. I like Will Ferrell, and all, but another buddy police comedy? Like that hasn’t been done? Well, this happens to be one of the best ones. We laughed often and hard in the theater when we went to see it. We had a blast, and I’m glad he got me to go.
1. The Matrix: Man oh man oh man, was I wrong about this one. Because Keanu Reeves was in this, I instantly wrote it off as a crap-fest of epic proportions and literally scoffed at Shawn when he glowed about it to me over coffee. When I finally got around to seeing this on video — God, was I late to the party — I was hooked on “The Matrix.” This is one of the best action/sci-fi films of all time. While the sequels may have left a bad taste in our collective mouths, the original remains a modern classic.
Shawn 5, Matt 0.
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