I'll give Kidman this, she's a whole person in this movie. And that makes her completely unlike the split personality, spineless panderer portrayed by Jodie Foster in Contact. I think Foster's a fine actor, too. The fault in Contact lay in its writing and direction...
The use of all that current news footage of Bush, Iraq and whatnot in The Invasion didn't bother me nearly as much as the use of President Clinton in Contact. There's a huge difference between a relevant real life addition and a gimmick. The moment Zemeckis saw real-life Clinton's Mars microbe news conference he just had to have it in his movie. Don't bother asking whether it actually enhances the story! Who cares? It's newsworthy. It steals importance, and lends credibility through association with some other important event. Use it!
The Invasion added a suitable, current events background that enhanced the story. This is global invasion after all. We need a sense of the before and after. The use of current media creates a viable alternative history within the film. In Contact, Clinton is more like a sight gag, or an inside joke. Wink wink. It's just so much Gump.
I do wish this movie had taken the time to slow down a little. They started out fast, and that's fine. But I needed more breaks, a little more emotional closeness between the principles. The dinner table conversation foreshadowing the conflict felt very fresh and smart. It definitely helped the ending and the film as a whole. But I think the period right before Dr. Bennell pulls the trigger should have been longer, more reflective. The entire movie was logistically set up for that scene, but it felt too rushed to me. More emphasis was placed on the following chase scene. A proper rest will always naturally enhance a crescendo. It just didn't have quite the emotional climax I needed.
I have an idea. In the final chase scene Bennell could have plowed through a city block long mob of changelings. It would have been a better contrast to the lone woman in the tunnel and would have emphasized her cross-over to the darker side of raw animal instinct. It could have been an admission of guilt, as it were.
And please, more Law&Order, and less CSI. If they'd left those stupidass red corpuscle close-ups out I might have been happier with the happy ending. Maybe include a track without the showoffy CG blood vessel crap on the DVD release?
The Invasion did get under my skin a little. I found myself looking over my shoulder even more than usual on the walk home last night. And my natural facial resting state has never been so stoic.
And regarding the dismay I hear on those horrible, vapid morning talk shows over how serious it is... it's serious... it is. It's the serious, smart side of scifi. What's your problem? You mentally retarded, fucking hairdos on 'Good Morning Ameriduh' didn't complain about the much darker 28 Weeks Later being 'too serious' for a summer flick. Did ya? Huh? No!
Think of this movie as summer school. OK, bad example.
Try this: go see Transformers, then turn your brain back on and see The Invasion. Then go home, drink a six-pack and take a dip in the pool to get you back in summer vacation mode.