Old 01-01-2009, 06:06 PM
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I did myself a favor and chose not to rewatch the original Robert Wise classic from 1951 just in case this turned out to be as terrible as I've heard. I have fond memories of the original, with its simply told story that had no need for huge special effects to get its point across. Was there really any need for a remake? No, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Several scientists are brought together by the government upon discovery of an object hurtling toward Earth at an alarming speed. The object turns out to be an alien spacecraft that lands in Central Park. It is immediately surrounded by the military and when a being emerges from the craft, one of the soldiers shoots it, causing them to rush it to an army hospital. The being's name is Klaatu (played by a 2x4 purchased from The Home Depot and Keanu Reeves) who has been sent to Earth as a representative of a group of civilizations to warn the human race that it will be destroyed if it does not change its harmful attitude towards the Earth. However, things don't go according to plan. Aiding Klaatu in his mission are one of the scientists, Helen (Jennifer Connelly), and her son, Jacob (Jaden Smith).

When I first heard that Keanu Reeves would be playing the role of Klaatu in this remake, I first thought that that might actually work. Reeves has a very wooden type of acting that works well for some roles. He has had roles that he has had much success in, like in "The Matrix." Then there have been roles that he has utterly failed at, like in "Bram Stoker's Dracula." Klaatu is not meant to be an incredibly eccentric character, but he does have at least a little emotion. The role was originally made famous my Michael Rennie, who played the character with the right combination of emotion and coldness towards humanity.

There is Rennie's version of the character, then there is Reeves's version of the character. Reeves plays Klaatu on one single note and continues that throughout the entire film. Not once do we get any sense of actual emotion coming from him. You could quite literally replace him with a 2x4 and get the exact same performance. Playing the character this way made it seem like he was trying to indicate that Klaatu didn't care what happened to humanity in the least or that Reeves just didn't care for this role at all.

The film's supporting cast was adequate. It includes Jennifer Connally as the scientist who tries to save humanity (and this film) from its fate. Kathy Bates seems wasted in the role of Secretary of Defense. She only has a few scenes, but even in those few scenes, Bates just didn't seem to be trying very hard.

The biggest surprise of the film came in the form of one scene featuring John Cleese. I didn't even know he was in it before watching it, but I found his performance to be the most convincing of the whole bunch. That is made even more surprising when you remember that Cleese is most famous for his comedy sketches with the Monty Python troupe back in the 60s and 70s.

Cleese plays Professor Barnhardt, the man with whom Klaatu speaks after having failed to get the point across to the Secretary of Defense. I just wish that they had used his character a bit more, not only because Cleese gave the best performance, but also because his character was the only one who appeared to be getting through to Klaatu. Instead, the scene plays way too quickly and felt like it didn't get a chance to fully play out.

One thing that made the original film so special was that it didn't need large amounts of special effects to keep the audience interested. It was able to use the story to keep the audience engaged and through that story, it was able to deliver its message of peace quite clearly. The remake uses tons of CGI effects to try and make the story seem more interesting than it is. At least most of the effects were done well. The effect I had the most problems with was Gort the robot, Klaatu's protector. The CGI used to bring Gort to life was laughable and looked incredibly cartoonish. It felt like the special effects were just compensating for a screenplay that didn't really know what to do with the story, so instead of trying to make the material work for them, the screenwriter decided to keep the audience interested by featuring a CGI sequence every 5 minutes or so.

This remake had a lot of problems, but it was mildly entertaining. I certainly don't recommend that you run out and see it, but perhaps if you're bored one night and feel like having a good laugh at a bad film, then this just might do the trick. There just really wasn't any reason to remake what was already a great film, so if you have the choice between the two, then definitely stick with the original. 2.5/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 01-01-2009 at 06:08 PM..
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:41 AM

This stars: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese and Jaden Smith. Pure boredom, silly and overall terrible. The acting was like watching a B movie. Reeves was alright for his part. He fits in well for movies "like this" but Bates and Connelly should be ashamed of themselves. There was nothing apocalyptic scary about this film. Even the people that thought they were going to die were like..."oh well". I hated the ending the most! Anyways, I did my warnings, don't take a chance with this trash. I give this movie a 3.5 Ken
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