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Case Number 02581

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Robin Cook's Invasion

Artisan // 1997 // 175 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // January 31st, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Alien terror begins from within…

Opening Statement

Ever notice how so many taglines end with an ellipsis? (If you need a punctuation refresher, an ellipsis is three trailing dots that indicate thought vanishing into thin air.) Sometimes I read those and want to supply an ending. Let's try it now!

Alien terror begins from within…

…five minutes of the original broadcast of "War of the Worlds"!
…a parsec of Alpha Draconis!
…the clearance rack at Wal-Mart!
…a wriggling mass of slimy, chitinous tentacles!
…five miles south of Laredo, Texas!

We don't typically delve so deeply into the linguistic roots of the tagline here at DVD Verdict. Yet in the case of Robin Cook's Invasion, this is all the intellectual stimulation you're gonna get. Might as well milk it for all it's worth.

Facts of the Case

The movie opens with a view of the stars. The camera pans down to reveal our beloved planet Earth. Suddenly, the stars are blotted out by the massive bow of an alien spacecraft, which moves towards Earth and enters the heliospehere, causing a massive atmospheric disturbance over Phoenix. No, this isn't Independence Day, it's Invasion. Keep up.

In a stunning twist of both plot and physics, the spacecraft shrinks to the size of a small pebble. It lands in a diner parking lot, where it promptly disintegrates a curious rattlesnake. Must not be friendly aliens.

Beau (Luke Perry) is a super nice guy. He coaches basketball at the orphanage and flirts with his superhot fiancée, Cassy (Rebecca Gayheart). Beau has big dreams that hinge on getting a job at the North Foundation. All of that changes when he picks up an extraterrestrial pebble in the diner parking lot, gets stung, and begins a remarkable metamorphosis.

Cassy notices unusual changes in Beau (for instance, he makes rayguns out of parts from her CD player and clock radio). She confides in her long-pining friend Pitt who works at the hospital with a crackerjack viroligist, Dr. Moran (Kim Cattrall). Together, the three piece together a horrific plot to mutate all humankind!

Racing against time, they gather sympathetic people and flee to the mountains. They set up a state-of-the-art laboratory with various medical supplies pilfered from the hospital and begin work on an antibody to fight the alien infestation.

Meanwhile, Luke Perry has become an overlord über-alien. He plans to build a portal to the stars and usher in a new age of domination!

The Evidence

Going back to the ellipsis, there is another common usage. It is used in online bulletin boards to get surfers to read a weak thread: "What would happen if…" "Ever wonder why…" "Did you see this…" Often this vague but somehow enticing wording is an attempt to draw readers in when the poster knows his content is too lame to attract attention in on its own. A remarkable parallel to the tagline for Invasion.

The first hour of Invasion was entertaining because I felt like a super-savvy cinema savant. "He's gonna come up behind her! Now watch, his eyes will do something freaky. Now he's gonna try to turn her into an alien, but Pitt is going to walk in the front door and save her." Scene after scene, I "psychically" called the shots, even read lines along with the actors. Somewhere within hour two, the game had lost its luster. By hour three, the abjectly derivative nature of Invasion was like a splinter in my mind, driving me mad. Was there anything original in this movie? If you have seen any of the following, there is no need to watch Invasion:

• Independence Day
• Outbreak
• Invasion of the Body Snatchers
• Close Encounters of the Third Kind
• V: The Final Battle
• The Stand
• The Stuff
• Any soap opera, any after school special, or Beverly Hills 90210

Don't get me wrong, I like derivative genre films as much as the next guy. But when I can point to specific scenes from other movies where entire chunks of Invasion came from, it has gone too far. You can play too!

Invasion or Terminator 2?

Invasion or Independence Day?

Invasion or The X-Files?

Invasion or Independence Day?

Invasion or Ghostbusters?

Invasion or Independence Day?

Invasion or Return of the Jedi?

Invasion or Independence Day?

Point made. Let's move on to the other aspects of the film, since story is obviously not the strong suit.

• Acting: Maudlin melodrama punctuated by vapid underacting. If you watch Friends, you'll know what I mean when I say there is judicious "smell the fart" acting.
• Extras: None.
• Audio: Muddy dialogue, uninspired score.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Which brings me to the irony of all ironies: The image is outstanding! Though made for TV, the image looks crystal clear and the colors are well saturated. The blacks are fairly dark—not inky, but good enough. This is the only made-for-TV transfer I've seen to date with no digital artifacts. It is clean as a whistle.

The digital effects are also quite good for this type of film. I can only imagine how much more dramatic V: The Miniseries could have been with such effects. We're reaching the point where even made-for-TV movies can have believable effects on a small budget.

Closing Statement

My jovial attitude might lead you to believe Invasion is one of those "so bad it's good" kind of movies. No. Eminently predictable, with ludicrous violations of the laws of physics. Can one really make a disintegration ray out of an alarm clock? Can a ragtag band of hospital workers really whip up the antibody to an alien virus in a backwater, makeshift lab? Can two high school students really use their laptop to hack into top secret government lab equipment? If you think the answer might be yes, enjoy Invasion with my deepest condolences.

The Verdict

Luke Perry, you have been accused of poor, poor acting. His honor is ashamed to have defended some of your past movies: Invasion is evidence enough to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. Craig Weiss, the court finds that you did purposefully, and with full knowledge, steal the effects work of others. Writers Rockne S. O'Bannon and Robin Cook, you are found guilty of accepting payment without due work performed. I remand you all to a chain gang with Anna Nicole Smith, Richard Simmons, and Kato Kaelin.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 74
Extras: 0
Acting: 49
Story: 40
Judgment: 44

Perp Profile

Studio: Artisan
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Science Fiction
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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