Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Archive: 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'

Movie Review
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

The one thing this remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic gets right is its casting. I think Keanu Reeves may actually be a real alien. He is the ultimate in having zero expression, and here, he cranks it up another level. And so, who not a better person to have play Klaatu, the monotone and emotionless alien who's come to save the earth from ourselves? The message of the original was that humankind needs to learn to stop killing each other with violence. Now, in 2008, we simply need to learn to stop engorging ourselves and be respectful to the earth. And we need threateningly large, ominously glowing spheres of doom to get this message across to us. I didn't know aliens were aligned to a particular political party. That is what we're getting at here, right?

It's timely, yes, but it's also packaged into a movie that is downright uninvolved and dull. If you want to see it done right, turn your attention to "WALL-E." "The Day the Earth Stood Still," like it's leading man, is equally stolid. It's an expensive-looking movie, and there are some pretty handsome special effects, but none are ever put to good use. Even the inevitable destruction of Manhattan feels tired and derivative. I think it was a different time in the 50s when we were more easily entertained. This remake at this point just feels wholly unnecessary and like many alien destruction movies we've seen already.

Jennifer Connelly plays Helen Benson, a scientist who is apprehended by the government to assist with the appearance of the glowing sphere in Central Park. Once her involvement gets underway, she finds an odd connection with Klaatu, trusts him, and ends up trekking around with him, mostly through vast amounts of woods. Of course, the fate of the world ends up being put in her hands alone. The Defense Secretary who's been assigned to speak for the president and vice president is played by Kathy Bates. She's a straightforward, no funny business type woman, and her character is probably meant to represent something. She does receive a call from the president to make a fatal military attack. Take from that what you may.

Although I'm familiar with the 1951 classic, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't actually seen it; however, I doubt any justice is being done with this junk. While out saving the planet, Helen is also accompanied by her son. Or, rather, not her real son because she married her son's dad, but then he died. I don't know why we're given this information. The son, Jacob, is played by Jaden Smith, who was really good in "The Pursuit of Happyness." Here, he annoyed the hell out of me. The stupid kid whines about wanting Klaatu dead but then conveniently changes his mind when the time's right. There's a moment when Klaatu so graciously saves Jacob from slipping off the edge of a bridge. Good for him because I would've let him fall.

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