Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers has seen four high-profile adaptations to film, but only the first two share the essential link between film and remake. Abel Ferrara’s noteworthy Body Snatchers, and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s less noteworthy The Invasion, riff on different themes than the two versions fully titled Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Though their styles diverge sharply with the decades in which each was produced, these movies mine contemporary social anxiety to the same terrifying effect, thanks to skillful directing and acting in both cases. Given the number of disappointing remakes to be covered in the coming weeks, it seems like a good idea to begin the series with an unqualified success.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
directed by Don Siegel
Some day in the future, scientists will conclude that the signs of aquatic life recorded on Jupiter’s sixth moon, Europa, are sufficiently promising to risk a manned mission of something like two years (one way) to take environmental samples. This is the plain and simple premise of Sebastián Cordero’s Europa Report.
Europa One is a high-tech exploration vessel funded by nebulous sponsors presumably more benign than the Weyland-Yutani Corporation of the Alien franchise. Framed as a declassified account of the mission, the movie begins with strong hints that while the astronauts outdid themselves in a high-risk situation, things did not turn out as planned. In fragments of onboard footage and explanatory asides from mission control experts, a harrowing account of tribulation among the stars unfolds. Continue reading →
By the end of this year, film enthusiasts will never again have to explain the concept of kaiju to bewildered laymen. A Japanese word roughly meaning “giant beast” or “monster,” this blanket term refers to a popular genre of films about city-crushing creatures such as Gojira (Godzilla), Gamera, Megalon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. For decades, most people have known what a kaiju is, but until Pacific Rim, there were many who did not know that they knew.
This is only one virtue of a movie that gets almost everything right, and whose various minor flaws cannot dampen an overall sense of triumph. We will escape this summer with at least one fully satisfying action blockbuster, and this is it. Continue reading →