Utopia is here. Revolutionary advances have been made in all fields, humans co-exist in harmony and the Earth is at peace. The catch? The Earth is not ours. “Souls”, a non-corporeal alien race, have invaded human bodies to stop us our world and they have won. At least with the majority – there still remains factions of human resistance. Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is a key part of the insurgency, and she severely injures herself whilst attempting to draw them away from her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and boyfriend Jared (Max Irons), in a bid to save them. The Seeker (Diane Kruger), seeing an opportunity to infiltrate the pockets of rebellion, heals Melanie and inserts a “soul” known as The Wanderer in order to gather more information. Melanie, in an unusual turn of events, is still awake and resisting and slowly over time The Wanderer begins to empathise and this poses a problem.
Helming this is director Andrew Niccol (In Time, The Truman Show) who co-wrote the script with Stephenie Meyer of the Twilight saga fame. He seems to enjoy exploring the human psyche in interesting ways like he has done in the past but this doesn’t quite measure up to his previous attempts. Roberto Schaefer does an amazing job on the cinematography and the production design by Andy Nicholson is futuristic and clinical which deftly symbolises that post-invasion Earth is almost devoid of human emotion. It is also realistic, you’d believe that this is how the world could look in a few years if an alien occupation happened. The film has a novel idea on the usual science fiction fare but it doesn’t try and explore more angles or look for further reaching effects of the invasion, other than the trivial teen romance. The ending is actually quite interesting but by this point it is too late to salvage the film. The saving grace of this film is the great acting from Ronan. She is able to take this simplistic, unintentionally funny script and turn into an interesting look into Melanie’s life and that of her family, Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) and Aunt Maggie (Frances Fisher) and fellow activists. The supporting cast do a reasonable enough job, but none of them can lift this from mediocrity.
Only the first book of supposedly three planned by Meyer has been published and I hope that a follow up is so far off into the future that it never happens. The premise of this was interesting (aliens have invaded us but because they care and want to help us restore the world) but the execution was appalling (plot holes, dire script, focused on teen romance). Despite my better judgement, the little girl inside kind of enjoyed it for what it was, a soppy alien invasion with no backbone, but it’s not anywhere near great or worth the price of admission (I rented it out at my mum’s request) – I suggest you stay away. I did discover the band Imagine Dragons though because of this film and that’s not a bad thing.
What did you think? A quirky cool Invasion of the Body Snatchers homage or downright awful? Your turn on the soapbox in 3, 2, 1.