Excellent paranoia riff by Kaufman with an assured use of naturalistic detail to cover the plot hysterics. As with many 1970s films there is a great sense of flowing choreography with neat editing of scene bridges, sound cues and fluid camerawork. In lesser hands this could have been a derivative hack job; instead an intelligent audience pleaser with themes of conspiracy and (if not too fanciful) national meltdown.
A lot of films from around this time try to capture the paranoia and cynicism of the post-Watergate 70s, but it took an update of a sci-fi McCarthyism parable to really pull it off. Both a product of its time and completely timeless in portraying the fear that those closest to us aren't who they say they are. And oh, don't fall asleep - those who dream are bound to get screwed. Absolutely brilliant.
The first act is nearly flawless in its sense of encroaching doom, as panicked citizens flee for their lives in the periphery of shots. Director Philip Kaufman makes excellent use of his San Francisco setting and the post-Watergate era's general mistrust of the government. But in turning the Pod People into hordes of shrieking zombies, they somehow become far less scary than the quiet, civil invasion of the original.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Thoroughly impressive. I still love the original a bit better but this version was so creepy and ominous, magnificently infused with the spirit of the best conspiracy thrillers of the 70s. The cast was great (Leonard Nimoy was an excellent touch) and the hopelessness of the situation (especially the lack of sound during the end credits) made it. Great effects and the McCarthy cameo was superb.
Brilliantly creepy and tense for the first hour... just downright scary. But it gets silly. Very silly. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone is scared during the dog scene. It's accompanied by the most ridiculous banjo music. The use of music and sound throughout the entire film is poor, it becomes very annoying. Good performances, atmosphere and direction save this film.
Timeless and political. I really dig the unusual camera and the apocalyptic, chaotic and paranoid atmosphere. Very Cronenberg-ish too. And, btw, what the heck was that dog? Scared the shit outta me. Epic and unexpected ending.
One of the most effective and justifiable remakes I've seen, some of the images are well past the WTF-meter and have held finely over the years, add to that the always charming Donald Sutherland and the great supporting cast (especially Leonard Nimoy) and you have a winner.