The Invasion (15) IN today s world of increasingly Orwellian-type paranoia over the creeping powers of state surveillance, it seems a fairly obvious choice to look to old parables for sources to re-work for the present day...

The Invasion (15)

IN today's world of increasingly Orwellian-type paranoia over the creeping powers of state surveillance, it seems a fairly obvious choice to look to old parables for sources to re-work for the present day.

However, in hunting them out, it seems rather bizarre to opt for one of those that helped add to the Cold War panic, rather than point out the insanity of the situation.

Originally written in 1954, at the peak of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Reds-under-the-bed, anti-Communist crusade, sci-fi author Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers is now a classic.

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Telling of an invasion of strange alien creatures who create almost indistinguishable clones of regular humans, killing the originals in the process, it was a fairly unsubtle analogy to the inability of regular Americans to tell which of their friends may be Communists.

It was first filmed in 1956 and again in 1978 - the version everyone remembers, with Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy.

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Another version appeared in 1993 and similar plots cropped up in John Carpenter's The Thing, the cult 1958 B-movie, I Married A Monster From Outer Space, and the cult late-1960s' TV show, The Invaders.

Similar ideas have also been explored in the various post-George Romero zombie films, following his 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead.

So, why make another version, especially now that the Cold War atmosphere in which the previous films flourished is no longer around?

After all, the 1993 version crashed and burned, coming as it did a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union.

It's a question that the studio responsible seems to have been asking itself repeatedly over the last couple of years, so long has this been delayed.

For a film starring the enviable A-list pairing of Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, the wait seems bizarre. Hollywood excels in pointless re-makes and never seems to worry too much about the quality as long as the new versions have sufficient star power to lure in the punters.

Originally filmed in the autumn of 2005, the project languished for 18 months after shooting until the Wachowski brothers, responsible for the similarly paranoia-filled Matrix series, were brought in for re-writes, with re-shoots - costing more than half the original budget again - taking place in January this year with an all-new director and an all-new ending.

But have the re-shoots been worth it? The idea remains the same - the modern shift being to make the alien invaders not some sinister, plant-like organism, as in previous versions, but a virus that soon takes control of almost all the world, aided by infected people in the government machine.

As Kidman and Craig desperately try to counter the onslaught, the claustrophobic, panicked atmosphere is intended to create suspense - yet even with such top actors, and, despite the expensive re-think, something falls flat.

Why? Simply because we've seen this all before - many, many times. Even with A-list actors and a good stab at slickly stylish shooting, lack of originality is far harder to disguise.

Like the infected humans in all the previous adaptations of The Body Snatchers, it's pretty much the same as before - but something's just not quite right.

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