Critic Reviews



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Easily among the greatest remakes ever made, Philip Kaufman updates Don Siegel's McCarthy-era classic to 1978 San Francisco. Kaufman proves singularly adept at keeping multiple genres and tones in play, from noirish mystery to heady paranormal thriller to face-squishing sci-fi horror. There's truly no recovering from the film's final the enemy-is-us parting shot.
Set at the intersection of post-Vietnam paranoia and the myopic introspection that became hippiedom's most lasting cultural contribution, the Philip Kaufman-directed Invasion alternates social commentary with impeccably crafted scares. As much an echo of Don Siegel's 1956 original as a remake, it does little to change a formula that worked fine the first time around.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers validates the entire concept of remakes. This new version of Don Siegel’s 1956 cult classic not only matches the original in horrific tone and effect, but exceeds it in both conception and execution. Sutherland has his best role since Klute. He gets excellent support from Adams, who projects a touching vulnerability.
Slant Magazine
One of the subtlest and most extraordinarily fluid of American horror films, Kaufman crafts textured scenes, rich in emotional and object-centric tactility, that cause our heads to casually spin with expectation and dread.
Though it lacks the awesome allegorical ambiguousness of the 1956 classic of sci-fi/political paranoia (here paid homage in cameo appearances by Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel), Kaufman and screenwriter WD Richter's update and San Francisco transposition of Jack Finney's novel is a far from redundant remake.
For once, a great remake, smartly executed. Great performances and a killing ending that will stay with you forever can't hurt, either.
Phil Kaufman's version of the Don Siegel SF classic is good as remakes go, but not as good as the original. Where Siegel was swift, compact, and efficient Kaufman tends to be slow, garrulous, and needlessly baroque. Ideas that Siegel knocked off in a few shots are expanded to fill entire sequences—but they're good ideas, and can stand a little stretching. Good allegories never die; they just expand and contract to fit the times.
The screenplay, by W. D. Richter, remains bright and lively throughout, but the plot just isn't full enough to carry a feature film. The characters are vivid, and uniformly well-played, and their pre-pod lives are fairly well established. But an hour into the film, once the menace is identified, the few remaining humans begin fleeing for their lives, and after that it's just run, run, run.
If there is a hero in the new film, it is Donald Sutherland, who gives an energetic, intelligent, emotionally rangy performance as the public health officer working on the case. There is nothing wrong, either, with Brooke Adams as his colleague and lover. But, sadly, they can not compensate for all the other mistakes in a film that lingers too long and too soberly over material that, as the original showed, must be quickly, even superficially handled, if it is to be accepted at all.
The film collapses midway--because of unsure and sloppy direction, splintered story continuity, and the overacting of Adams, Cartwright, and others. The battle between Sutherland and the aliens in the "pod factory" at the end is simply absurd and sophomoric.

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