Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Review: The Puppet Masters (1994)

Stars: Donald Sutherland, Julie Warner

Budget: Unknown

Directed By: Stuart Orme

An invasion of the body snatchers type romp penned by sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein.

Donald Sutherland stars as Andrew Nivens a secret government agent. As always from a member of the Sutherland family there is brilliant acting on offer from the older member here. Effects are half decent and seem to mostly be practical and realistic, the alien parasites seem believable for the most part. It is however only comparable to invasion in that it's alien in origin and controls it's host.
These are just plain parasitic aliens that latch onto you and control your mind and body rather than replicating you replacing.
Eric Thal also stars as Nivens son and also secret agent Sam, also a pretty decent actor in his own right and works well with Donald. Though I'd rank him as second rate Keanu reeves, quite wooden. Julie Warner also stars as a NASA biologist Mary Sefton, who is the counterpart to Sutherland's gruff character.

As with a lot of authors works things get lost in rewrites and adaptation, the puppet masters is no stranger to that. With two writers one who wanted to stick to the book as much as possible and one told to adapt it to make a sellable story. The movie does start with a strong beginning where the aliens believably spread. When the group goes to check out the area they find out that aliens have indeed landed, they are slimy slug like creatures that resemble sting rays.
Latching onto a hosts back they take over your nervous system and control you like a puppet. This is hard to see at first but they are quick to anger especially when suspicion is pointed their way.
This is where it tends to break down and lose integrity, it has no agenda or message and just breaks down in mostly action.

After many people are infected they find some among the puppets who are still human. This inevitably leads to a way to beat them. I won't as usual spoil the ending as this is a half decent film, but if you haven't seen any of the invasion of the body snatchers films 50s, 70s, or 90s. Or even the thing, if you haven't then there's something wrong. Then go watch them first (yes I know there's another invasion film with Nicole Kidman but this is better than that one). If THN gave half stars we'd give this two and half. Unfortunately we don't and thanks to a lackluster second half where only some decent acting shines we give this film 2 out 5 but recommend a watch if you can (it's pretty rare).

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