Hollywood Pictures // 2007 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 25th, 2007
Together they must solve his murder...before it's too late.
Every so often, someone decides to adapt a Scandanavian film for American audiences. Sometimes it works, but a lot of times it usually falls flat for whatever reason. Take The Invisible, an American adaptation of a Swedish novel named "Den Osynlige" that was remade into a film in the land of Abba. So in terms of remakes of films from that region, is this closer to Insomnia or to The Vanishing?
Mick Davis (Love in Paris) and Christine Roum adapted the American film that was directed by David S. Goyer (Blade: Trinity). In it, Nick (Justin Chatwin, War of the Worlds) is an isolated only child with a conflicting future. His mother (Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock) wants him to take on a law program, while he wants to go to London to pursue a dream of writing. He helps out his friend Pete (Chris Marquette, Alpha Dog), he's in a bind with Annie (Margarita Levieva, Billy's Choice), an even more socially isolated kid from his father and stepmother, and he frequently bumps into the law. However through various circumstances, Nick is severely beaten and left in the woods by Annie after she discovers who put her in jail. Nick manages to return somehow and is ignored by everyone, giving him the impression that he is dead. He finds out that Annie might be the only receptive voice he's going to find.
The Invisible starts off as a good movie and incorporates a lot of teen angst and desperation into the early stages of the film, capped by a fairly effective dream sequence. It helps illustrate that both Nick and Annie are experiencing feelings of dismissiveness by some and are ignored by others, even if they wish to exhibit some form of creativity outside of the perception others have of them. Wow, with a sentence like that, you'd expect something fairly affecting, a social commentary on high school peer groups and family structure, right?
Well, not exactly. In fact, it's a polar opposite of that actually. I loved how the film progressed until the U-turn into Nick becoming a member of the upper class and a younger Ebenezer Scrooge, where no one hears him and when everything he tries to touch is magically resurrected. Unlike Scrooge, who sees the error of his ways, Nick is trying to figure out who killed him, or at least who left him for dead. But what gets in the way of that is some of the twists and turns in the story that either confuse or confound. It is stated in the commentary track that there were some changes from the source material, ones that are visibly different. So why stray? Reinterpret the material, but don't change the wheel. Don't make Annie so unlikable that caring for her younger brother is nothing more than a transparent gesture to gain sympathy.
For what it's worth, I found the performances to be capable enough. Chatwin is tolerable, Levieva is decent, and Marquette steals the show as far as I'm concerned. As Pete, he's Nick's best friend, one who seems to need a little more care from his friend, as he's constantly threatened by Annie, her boyfriend Marcus (Alex O'Loughlin, The Holiday) and seemingly everyone else in the world. Since seeing him on Joan of Arcadia, I still think he's got a good future ahead of him. Harden is fine, if not vastly underused and even wasted in the role of the mother with only ten minutes of screen time.
Technically, The Invisible comes to realization in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation using the MPEG-4 codec and, considering the conscious stylistic choices Goyer makes in various scenes, like blowing out some whites and crushing blacks from time to time, the film looks sharp, blacks still look good and there's a decent level of detail to be had from the picture itself. The PCM soundtrack incorporates a lot of music into the film and it's a wise decision; it all sounds very good and clear. When the environmental sounds of rain and water from a dam come, they come from all around and are equally as clear. But considering that this is a superficial film to start with and includes a lot of songs, it's basically a ninety-minute promo for emo/alterna rock.
Bonus-wise, things are the same here as on the standard def version. Goyer and Roum contribute a track that discusses some of the story and recalls some of the things that occurred on the production. They discuss comparisons to the original along with any challenges in pulling the script together. Because both parties take a serious tone, it comes off as fairly vanilla sounding and not worth the time. The second track with Davis was done inexplicably with no other participants, so there's a ton of silence during his commentary. If you look at his picture on IMDb, he kind of looks like the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle after a two-week tequila and drain cleaner binge, so I'd definitely be curious to hang out with him, but in terms of a commentary participant, I've heard better. There are two music videos which are a bit redundant, as the film seemed to prop this up more often than not, and there are 11 deleted scenes that total about 15 minutes in length. Quite frankly, the deleted scenes were pretty solid and should have been integrated into the final cut. Large chunks of development of Nick's friend Suzie (Tania Saulnier, The Wicker Man), and Pete being caught in the middle of a struggle between the police investigation and what Annie and Marcus wanted him to do, were left out, and they were solid pieces.
Because of the Vancouver shooting location, a lot of areas might appear familiar, even more so with the recent release of Season Six of Smallville to DVD. The dam in the film is used here, and it made me yearn for the characters in the show. The well written dialogue, the cool special effects. But then I realized I wasn't watching Smallville, and it made me sad. Oh yeah, I forgot that I'm supposed to say something good about the film. Well...I liked the first 15 minutes?
The Invisible falls victim to a lot of things that teenage kids run into, the big one being that it doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Biting satire on youth in America? Crime film? The phrase "supernatural thriller" is tossed around quite a bit of the commentary track with Goyer and Roum, but I think you'd get better thrills by watching Supernatural. Save the teen angst crap for more polished films like Heathers and The Chocolate War. But hey, it sounds good on a speaker system, yet that's about it.
Guilty as charged, the court sentences the accused to...hey, wait a minute, my gavel was just here!
Review content copyright © 2007 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Hollywood Pictures
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Audio Commentary with Director David S. Goyer and Writer Christine Roum
* Audio Commentary with Writer Mick Davis
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Videos
* Original DVD Verdict Review
* Official Site