The Day the Earth Stood Still Reviews
"18, 24, 61, B, 17, 17, 4" (the data uplink code from The Running Man) without googling them, then you might like this film. Considering how bad the original film was, this is somewhat of a triumph.
There is a rather large whiff of "Neo" about Keanu's uninspired performance and Jennifer Connelly is as wooden as an extra from a Hulk movie but I have watched far worse. If your choice is between this and a film with a title that is a rip off of a blockbuster, "starring" ex-adult movie stars trying to be real actors, choose this.
Not good but not dire.
Wooden acting phenomenon Keanu Reeves with his naturally vacant expressions and uncomfortable screen presence seemingly fits a re-born alien role perfectly. However, his frozen faced and surprisingly flat performance is tiring to watch and is merely more than instantly forgettable.
Exploiting the ever-so-safe preapproved formula of modern end-of-the-world movies, A large unidentified spherical object is hurtling itself at warp speed towards earth (gasp) and as if you were surprised the US government takes it upon themselves to be our saviour.
Leaving tact and decorum at the door and forcefully collecting any citizen that may be of help, leading astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly) is taken without explanation to a secret location(what a surprise), without the company of her sarcastic maladjusted stepson Jason (Jaden Smith) to save the world from inhalation (hopefully before the 78 minute collision deadline).
When officials get caught off guard and the object stops short of impact in central park, Helen and fellow scientists are rushed to the scene. Flanked by a full and aggressive military arsenal, an unearthly shape suddenly appears in the fog (on a perfectly clear New York night) and advances. A trigger-happy soldier takes a shot injuring the whale-blubber Michelin man shape unknowingly awaking an in-build security system. (Predictably enough) A giant Cyclops robot appears to protect its charge by disabling all electronic equipment within the vicinity.
The injured form is rushed back to the secure military facility for medical attention under Helen's instruction, after extracting the bullet the protective outer "placenta -like" cocoon falls away revealing a human shaped alien named Klaatu.
While being questioned by a presidential representative Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates), Klaatu reveals his intentions "I am here to save earth". This ominous opening statement and his vague attempts of communication leads the government to believe that Klaatu is an enemy, and Helen is ordered to assist in sedating the alien. (As expected) By this stage of course, Helen has developed a feeling of connection to the being is compelled to help protect him by defying orders.
Klaatu, in his 'no-so-sedated' state is lead away for interrogation via lie detector (yeah an alien who can control electrics is going to be susceptible to lie detector, logical) using his abilities to manipulate the situation he escapes. Once free, Klaatu realises that his injured body requires attention and reaches for assistance from Helen along with her defiant son to succeed in the purpose of his visit.
With sphere's materialising around the globe subtlety carrying out their Noahs arc duties of preserving a sample of each of earths living creatures, the obligatory race against time to save mankind ensues. But will Helen's attempt to emotional reach Klaatu and prove our ability to adapt and learn from our mistakes gain his protection before the cleansing process removes all trace of our existence.
The suspense that follows is little more than uninteresting subtly hidden behind a barrage of special effects. Stephen Derrickson's hands-off-approach to directing leaves Jennifer Connelly's attempt to inject passion into a single heart-plucking scene falls short of touching.
Verdict: The predictably formulaic style and mediocre delivery lacks intensity and stamina. Where the original film is unassuming, this version is intolerably full of its self and presents as a bloated X-files episode engorged to pseudo-cosmic proportions. If you're after a tuned out Saturday evening fluff movie this fits the out-of-worldly bill.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 16/01/2009
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" from 2008 is a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. The majority of critics found the film "heavy on special effects, but without a coherent story at its base. Bruce Paterson of the Australian Film Critics Association gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, writing that the generally poor reception for the film was "a sad fate for a surprisingly sincere tribute to Robert Wise's 1951 classic." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars and noted that the film had "taken its title so seriously that the plot stands still along with it", but also stated that it was "an expensive, good-looking film that is well-made by Scott Derrickson". This remake suffers from underdeveloped themes, an incoherent plot, rough characterisation, wobbly acting and effects that takes over the storyline. The film starts off ok, but never really manages to convince due to lack of substance despite the fact that the story is intriguing with Klaatu wanting to save earth from mankind and not the opposite. In the end it just becomes a blockbuster action movie and not a full blown sci-fi movie with solid layers of a socio-political nature. Reeves is alien-like and wooden, no news here. While the talented and lovely co-star Jennifer Connelly isn't given much to work with, she still comes out of this with her dignity. And Jaden Smith is just a spoiled celebrity kid that adds nothing to the film. The idea was there, but the execution lacks a plenty.