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THE INVISIBLE – Marco Beltrami

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Let’s just take a moment to be frank and honest here. I’m having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to start this review. I’ve got a few things to say about “The Invisible”, but I’m not really sure how to start saying them, or how to string them together in a particularly interesting way. I suppose the first thing that my mind is pondering is what led David S. Goyer to direct this film. For those of you who haven’t heard of the man, he’s been involved as a writer, director, and/or producer on such films as “Batman Begins”, the “Blade Trilogy”, “Ghost Rider”, “The Crow: City of Angels”, “Dark City”, and he’s currently writing “The Dark Knight” and “The Flash”. He’s an action movie/superhero guy. What on earth possessed him to make a moody teenage ghost story like “The Invisible”? *the critic paused, and decided to abandon that train of thought*.

The primary moody teenager here is Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin), a talented American kid with a burning desire to go to a writing school in London. One day, he gets dragged into a confrontation with a moody (female) teenage hood named Annie Newtown (Margarita Levieva). Annie drags him into the middle of the woods, kicks him in the head, and accidentally kills him. Well, sort of. Nick’s dying, but he is not dead. This puts him into some sort of spiritual space between the world of the living and the world of the dead. So, he can wander around and see what people are doing, but he can’t communicate with any of them in any way whatsoever.

Thinking Nick is dead, Annie hides the body, which makes things all the more problematic for Nick. He needs someone to find him and get him to a hospital, but no one can find him, and his would-be murderer thinks he is dead. So, he’s got to figure out a way to lead someone to his body before he gives out and goes to… um… well, he’ll disappear, and where he goes is entirely dependent on your personal religious beliefs, I suppose. The point is, he’ll be dead, as opposed to semi-dead.

This could have been a reasonably interesting story, but it’s partially ruined by Goyer’s determination to make things as gloomy and dull as possible. None of the infinite possibilities of such a situation are explored, and to make things worse the story begins to lose any sense of logic as it continues. Suddenly, Nick begins to have the ability to vaguely communicate on some sort of subtle level with certain people, though there don’t seem to be any rules that determine when or with whom he can do this. Basically, he can do it whenever the plot says he can do it.

Even more irritating is the performance of lead actor Justin Chatwin. It’s incredibly difficult to sympathize with this guy, because frankly, he’s a selfish jerk. He runs around shouting and glaring and brooding and generally behaving like a bitter bore for most of the film. Sure, we’d all be irritated if we were dying and had no way of finding someone to help us out, but Chatwin makes the unwise decision of expressing obnoxious anger rather than intense frustration. He’s one of the least likable heroes I’ve seen at the movies this year.

Marco Beltrami’s score does a fine job of selling certain scenes that would certainly be ridiculous without his help. Despite a few elements of suspense here, this is mostly a change of pace for Beltrami, who is typically stuck in a rut of working on horror films and dark action movies. His score is genuinely moving, and displays a refreshing sense of pacing and structure. Early cues feature some nice work for guitar and percussion, and he gradually adds increasingly large orchestral strokes as the film progresses, adding a few tasteful dashes of choir in a couple of scenes. Everything culminates in a wonderful emotional cue near the end of the film. Nearly the entire score is full of dramatic, tender, and expressive music, and it’s a real shame that Disney didn’t see fit to include any score on their soundtrack album. The album (and film) is filled with an obnoxious array of angsty teen rock ballads from Snow Patrol, Remy Zero, Oceansize, Mellowdrone, and others. There are numerous scenes in the film that would have been great backdrops for original score material, instead, inappropriate songs are tossed in at random, perhaps a weak attempt at trying to keep things interesting for younger viewers.

If there is a saving grace in “The Invisible”, it is the performance of Margarita Levieva as Annie. She taps into some impressive depths and creates a unique character that we care about far more than the irritating Nick Powell. Her inner conflict over the accidental murder of someone is by far the most moving element of the film. Credit should also go to Marcia Gay Harden in a solid role as Nick’s mother. Still, there’s too many wrongs to make things right here. I wish “The Invisible” had been just that, staring at a blank screen for 90 minutes surely couldn’t have been much less engaging.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Music for a Nurse (performed by Oceansize)
  • Fashionably Uninvited (performed by Mellowdrone)
  • Wolf Like Me (performed by TV on the Radio)
  • Under Pressure (performed by Kill Hannah)
  • Bliss (performed by Syntax)
  • Open Your Eyes (performed by Snow Patrol)
  • Body Urge (performed by The Great Fiction)
  • Taking Back Control (performed by Sparta)
  • 02-20 Boy (performed by Suicide Sports Club)
  • Stars & Sons (performed by Broken Social Scene)
  • Weak & Powerless (performed by A Perfect Circle)
  • Caterwaul (performed by And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead)
  • I Will Follow You Into the Dark (performed by Death Cab for Cutie)
  • Perfect Memory (performed by Remy Zero)
  • You’re All I Have (performed by Snow Patrol)

Running Time: ## minutes ## seconds

Hollywood Records D000012002 (2007)

Music composed by Marco Beltrami. Orchestrations by Bill Boston, Rossano Galante, Dana Niu and Marcus Trumpp. Recorded and mixed by John Kurlander. Edited by Philip Tallman. Score produced by Marco Beltrami.

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