Back in November we reported to you that the Wachowski Siblings had been brought in to redo the ending of Invasion, the Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig starring update of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But now Steve at Collider has uncovered that the extent of the Wachowski involvement was bigger than previously thought, and that they in fact rewrote two-thirds of the film and had their former 1st AD and V For Vendetta director James McTiegue come in and direct all the new stuff.
Here’s the story: Warner Bros and Joel Silver brought in Oliver Hirschbiegel, the acclaimed German director of Das Experiment and Downfall, to work on the 600th reimagining of the classic story of alien invasion, this time with the aliens in some sort of viral form. Filming began way back in 2005, and when Hirschbiegel, whose Downfall had been nominated for an Oscar, delivered a cut to the studio they freaked out. Seems that Invasion was intended as a blockbuster film, and what the director showed them was ‘artsy’ and ‘talky,’ according to Collider. Hirschbiegel was either unavailable or unwilling to do the reshoots demanded, and so Silver turned to his buddies, The Wachowskis, and their loyal accomplice McTeigue, to make the film more commercial.
Steve at Collider is excited about this. I’m horrified. Is it possible that Hirschbiegel’s cut was just plain bad? Oh yeah, of course. Look at how bad Paul Schrader’s Exorcist prequel turned out to be (for those who forgot: very fucking bad). But Hirschbiegel has, quite frankly, made better movies than any of the films the Wachowskis have been involved with, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
And there’s something icky about these guys coming in and redoing someone else’s movie. Again, I don’t know the whole story – Hirschbiegel could have been a total cock on the film and deserved to have it taken away from him – but I find the whole business sort of distasteful whenever it happens. And rewriting a full two thirds of the script strikes me as odd – didn’t Warner Bros see the script Hirschbiegel was going to shoot before he started?
The bottom line to me is that this is the next stop on the downward spiral of The Wachowski Brothers. There was a time, after The Matrix, when they seemed like possible wunderkinds, the next step in great, smart but populist filmmaking. They dropped the great with the sequels to The Matrix, and a G-rated adaptation of rotten cartoon Speed Racer seems destined to get rid of the smart. So it’s coming down to The Wachowskis as populist filmmakers. The hired guns you bring in to make a film that’s playing too highbrow palatable for the mall crowds.
As of now Hirschbiegel is still credited as the director, from what I can tell. It’ll be interesting to see how Warner Bros handles this all when the time comes for publicity. Steve hints that a trailer is on the way – could that trailer credit McTiegue as the director?