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Blu-ray Review: ATTRACTION 2: INVASION

Jul 21 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Attraction 2: Invasion is the follow-up to 2017’s Russian blockbuster Attraction. In the first film, a technologically-advanced humanoid alien named Hakon (Rinal Mukhametov) had traveled to Earth to do some research on the human race. It was supposed to be an incognito mission, but a meteor shower caused his ship to crash land in Moscow as the world was watched. Colonel Valentin Lebedev (Oleg Menshikov) was in charge of the military operation to deal with the aliens. However, he was unaware that his 19-year-old daughter Yulia Lebedeva (Irina Starshenbaum) had befriended and fallen in love with Hakon after he saved her life. She, along with classmate Google (Evgeniy Mikheev), assisted Hakon while he recovered and helped him to locate the equipment he lost in the crash. During their time together, Hakon had transferred a special bracelet onto Yulia’s wrist—a transmitter of kinetic material that could never be removed. Meanwhile, Yulia’s ex boyfriend, Artyom (Alexander Petrov), found out about Yulia’s relationship with Hakon, and flew into a jealous rage. He had managed to get a hold of one of the aliens’ high-tech robotic exoskeleton suits, and attacked them as they tried to get back to their ship. In his anger, he shot both Hakon and Yulia. The aliens have a special relationship with water, and Sol, Hakon’s research ship, was able to use it to heal Yulia’s injuries. Hakon, who would have lived forever, had sacrificed himself to save her, and now appeared to have died. Sol told Colonel Lebedev that it will review the results of Hakon’s mission, which would have an effect on the future of both of their worlds. Once healed, Yulia gave Hakon a tearful goodbye, and the spaceship took off. Artyom was arrested, and Yulia and her father tried to resume their normal lives. As the film ended, we got a glimpse of Hakon moving slightly in his pod on the ship.

Attraction 2: Invasion picks up two years later. Scientists have been working hard to decode the technology that the aliens had left behind. Three-Star Lieutenant General Valentin Lebedev is now the newly-appointed the head of the Extraterrestrial Threat Prevention Unit. The Russian Aerospace Forces are determined to prevent another incident like two years ago from happening again, and have just launched an early warning system to monitor deep space. They want to make sure that no spacecraft will ever be able to arrive at our planet unnoticed again. However, this new system doesn’t seem to be that effective, as a small ship is able to briefly deactivate the satellite as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Meanwhile, Yulia has continued her studies, but has spent the past two years being constantly followed by guards, and is regularly studied and interviewed by scientists at the Ministry of Defense. They think that she is the key to understanding how the alien technology works. When her emotions run high, strange things seem to happen. So they bring out Artyom as a way to get her riled up—something she doesn’t appreciate. Artyom tries to apologize, explaining that the exoskeleton had caused him to have a stroke, and that’s why he fired at her. But she doesn’t want to listen to him.

As Lebedev agrees to ease back on Yulia’s detail—though simply replacing the team of armed guards with an a plain clothes one—Yulia receives an unexpected visit from Hakon, the man she thought was dead. He warns her that her life is in danger—that she and the others have gone too far in their research, and that now she must fly away with him immediately (is that some sort of intergalactic pick-up line?). Hakon’s spaceship, Sol, had stayed in the Earth’s solar system while he healed. During that time, Sol had learned how to control the Earth’s satellites and information web. Hakon had violated protocol by going back to Earth for Yulia. Just as Yulia and Hakon reconnect, Sol is suddenly taken over by a directive that wants to stop the Humans—it must eliminate Yulia, and it will stop at nothing to make it so. Sol utilizes the Earth’s technology against itself, intercepting and manipulating communications and video, turning the people and military against one another, and mobilizing a force to hunt down Yulia. Sol will take out the entire Earth if it needs to in order to complete this mission. If Lieutenant General Lebedev has any chance of stopping Sol, he and his men are going to need to go old school, utilizing analogue communication and weapons to stop the rogue alien ship.

In the Blu-ray’s bonus featurette, the director of Invasion states that this film is not a sequel to Attraction, but rather a new movie with the same characters, set in the same city and country, but with some new additions. However, to me it felt very much like a straightforward sequel. At the end of the first film, Sol warns Lebedev that the analysis of Hakon’s mission was going to determine the fate of their two worlds, and that is exactly what is happening. The aliens are unhappy that the Earthlings are decoding their technology and want to put a stop to their research. Yulia is the key to unlocking that technology due to her contact with Hakon and what he transferred to her, and so she is their primary target. Hakon loves Yulia, and against orders returns to Earth in order to save her. This is when this technological war of the worlds breaks out. At the same time, the film is a story of redemption. For the past two years, Artyom has been in prison, struggling over his decision to shoot the woman he loved (and who once loved him), but now he has the chance to help atone for that by assisting Yulia, even if she doesn’t want this help.

Invasion has a similar blend of sci-fi, action and drama to its predecessor, Attraction. This is a very beautiful looking film, with some amazing effects and action-packed sequences. However, the story and plot gets a little muddled at times, sacrificing clarity for the massive spectacle. There were a couple times while watching the film where I thought, “that looks amazing, but I have no idea what it means”. However, upon a second viewing, I found the film a little easier to follow. While Attraction was more of a cerebral sci-fi love story, Invasion is more of a large scale disaster film, like The Poseidon Adventure meets Towering Inferno meets Independence Day. It is an action-packed popcorn film, and not one to make you ponder the meaning of life. There is lots of action and character drama, but also some fun humor mixed in. While there’s less of the fish-out-of-water type comedy from the first film, there are plenty of lighter moments in the midst of the impending disaster. Much of this comes from Yulia’s nerdy sidekick, Google, who is back and now conveniently working an internship at telecom giant Rostelecom. There are also some fun callbacks to his role in hiding Hakon in the first film.

Dark Sky Films’ Blu-ray release provides a solid video and audio presentation. This is a visually stunning film with some amazing special effects that even surpass those of the first film. There was only one scene that looked a little off to me, and that is a short sequence near the beginning of the film as Hakon’s capsule travels underwater after splashing into the ocean in Finland. Other than that, the picture is quite pristine and detailed throughout, and always a visual treat. The Blu-ray includes both the original Russian language soundtrack as well as an English dub. I opted for the English dub, which was decent, though sometimes the voice acting was a bit bland and uninspired. (The performance of stroke-victim Artyom was a bit cringe-worthy at times, and came off more like someone who was mentally impaired.) However, I found the actual dialogue used in the dub to preferable and more natural-sounding than the translation provided in the subtitles. Both audio tracks provides an excellent, immersive experience, with the stereo and surround channels well-utilized to fill the room. This is especially noticeable in one scene as a viewer is surrounded by a barrage of news reports coming from every direction, and in another scene as ships and missiles fly through the air, or as water is being manipulated by the aliens. Add to that the film’s haunting, exciting, and delightful score, and it makes for quite the aural experience.

The Blu-ray disc comes packed in a standard HD keepcase without a slipcover. No digital copy is included, and the on-disc bonus material only includes a single 7-minute featurette with the cast/creators, as well as some trailers.



What’s Included:

Film: (2:13:27)

    Blu-ray:

    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.68:1
    • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Russian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, English

Extras:

  • Promo-Featurette (6:59)
    The cast and filmmakers discuss the characters, the love story at the heart of the film, the technological battle with the aliens, the film’s massive scope, and more. Presented in Russian with English subtitles. Includes CGI effects test footage, clips, and interviews with director Fedor Bondarchuk, writer Andrey Zolotarev, director of photography Vladislav Opelyants, producers Anton Zlatopolskiy & Vyacheslav Murugov, CEO of Sony Pictures Productions & Releasing in Russia Anton Sirenko, and stars Oleg Menshikov (“Colonel Lebedev”), Alexander Petrov (“Artyom”), Rinal Mukhametov (“Hakon”) & Irina Starshenbaum (“Yulia Lebedeva”).
  • Teaser (1:40)
    Russian language teaser trailer.
  • Trailer 1 (2:28)
    Russian language trailer.
  • Trailer 2 (1:42)
    English language trailer.
  • Trailer 3 (1:35)
    English language trailer.
  • Trailer Attraction (1:57)
    English language trailer for the first film.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Recommended

Invasion is solid follow-up to Attraction, finding an organic way to bring back the same characters for a second movie. This sequel is much more of a big budget disaster film, though still explores the character drama and relationships set up in the first film. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds amazing. Like the first film, the English dub is a little sub-par, but didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the film. Unfortunately, the disc is very light on bonus material. This release comes recommended for those who enjoyed the first film, or those just looking for a fun sci-fi popcorn disaster film.