SEPTEMBER 24, 2010
I screw titles up every now and then, but I can usually get them right, and for good, after a few corrections. But I’ll probably never remember if this movie is called Infection: The Invasion Begins, or Invasion: The Infection Begins, because who the hell is going to correct me? The IMDb messageboard has one post, and there are only two reviews (no user ones). Hell I can’t even remember how I heard about it in the first place.
Luckily, it’s not that bad of a movie, really. I was more or less engaged throughout, despite several factors that worked to point me in the opposite direction. I liked how it took elements from a lot of great 50s/60s monster/paranoia movies and played them straight instead of for camp, and even if the visuals are laughably bad, the idea of starting it in the future with a survivor telling the story is a pretty decent one. Plus the movie is essentially a hybrid of Body Snatchers and Night of the Living Dead (the infected folks act like zombies, even staggering about as if slowed by rigor mortis, which makes no sense but let's just go with it), and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
But good lord does it have issues. Almost all of the actors suck, including the two male leads (one of whom is also the writer). They’re both incredibly stiff and make every line sound forced, which is fine for exposition that’s clunky anyway, but not so much when it’s supposed to be a jokey one-liner or a profession of love. And their acting is matched by the lousy direction/editing. Entire scenes play in master shots that aren’t particularly great to begin with, and everything feels like a soap opera. The editing of the climax is hilariously botched, as it’s supposed to be one of those “guy sets off an explosion and gets caught inside” deals, but the time from him lighting it (outside no less!) and when it actually blows up is like 30 seconds, because the editor keeps cutting to the survivors gathering around and gawking. Christ, the guy had time to crawl away from danger.
It’s also another movie that tries to make us believe actor Lochlyn Munro as a cop. Look, nothing against the guy, but how can anyone buy him as a law enforcement type after Dead Man On Campus? Whenever he tries to act tough, all I can think of is “I got some beers, let’s drink em!!!” I should watch that movie again, I remember thinking it was underrated. Also the love interest was a pre-Without A Trace Poppy Montgomery. Mmmm.
But the movie’s biggest offense is the outright theft of the Broken Arrow score. The actual music was licensed for use in Scream 2, so that was OK, but this is clearly just a re-recorded steal. I wouldn’t care for this sort of thing for ANY score, but the Broken Arrow score is one of the finest movie scores in the past 20 years, in my opinion, and you can’t just toss it in your cheapo Body Snatchers ripoff without even tossing a thank you to Hans Zimmer in the end credits. I hope he rounds up Trevor Rabin and Harry Gregson Williams and they kick these dudes’ asses. And that they play their music over the fight, to make it more epic.
Also, while I didn’t mind the future scenes (where everyone drives Smart cars or Segways, though presumably not off of cliffs), I don’t know why they needed to bother going so overboard with the “IN THE FUTURE!” backgrounds, since they look like shit (as does everything in this movie that requires an effect of any sort). It’s only 50 years later, and yet they have the same sort of “flying car and skyscrapers everywhere” visual motif that “future” movies of the 1960s had when depicting the year 2000. Obviously, these things are just not going to happen. I bet 2059 looks a lot like the world now, but with more Pinkberry locations. A title card and maybe some clever editing could have been a far more successful way of depicting the future.
The only two bonus features are a collection of cast and crew interviews. Like the movie itself, the effects work is terrible – they are seemingly in front of a white-screen? How else to explain the white halos around their heads as they talk about how they got cast or whatever? They also scale the actors down when they want to show a “relevant” film clip behind them, and so you’ll see someone raise their hands to make a point and the fingers will just disappear in the middle of the screen. And I say relevant in quotes because that’s not always the case; one of the crew guys says something like “Being on a low budget production forces you to be more creative”, and behind him is a shot of a guy with a camera on a tripod. Wow, you genius! This will save us millions!
The editor of the piece also has a tendency to just cut away from people mid-sentence, which I found hilarious. One guy says “On low budgets, the money you have, either you spent it or-”, and then he is replaced by a woman, also in mid-sentence, saying something about being efficient. It’s like watching someone else’s channel surfing. “Hey, I wanted to hear what he had to say!”
But you know, A for effort and all that. The film’s problems are mostly due to the budget; the script is decent (apart from a curiously inert 3rd act - the action’s pretty fast for the first hour, and then they all to go a house and sit around doing almost nothing for a while) and there’s an obvious love of movies like the original Blob, plus the ones I already mentioned. Forgettable, but enjoyable all the same.
What say you?