"THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Keanu Reeves as KLAATU
Jennifer Connelly as HELEN BENSON
Kathy Bates as REGINA JACKSON
Jaden Smith as JACOB BENSON
John Cleese as PROFESSOR BARNHARDT
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
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When a mysterious object is discovered on a collision course with Earth, scientist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is called to duty by the federal government. Soon, they discover that the object is a space craft, which lands in New York. An alien emerges and is accidentally shot, which almost unleashes the fury of its robot protector.
The alien is taken back to a government facility, and they discover it to be a human being. The alien, called Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), took this form as a clone of a human and has a message for the world leaders. When the military plans to interrogate and possibly dissect him, Helen helps him escape, and she learns the awful truth of why he has come to Earth – to save the planet from its inhabitants. It’s up to Helen to convince Klaatu to spare the human race.
WHAT I LIKED
Not being a big fan of the original film, I thought this remake did a decent job retaining the feel of the 1951 classic. Sure, this movie preached about the environment, but the original film had no qualms about preaching on the subject of nuclear proliferation. So, I was expecting a preachy film, and I got what I expected.
I’ve always liked the broad-scope alien invasion films like this movie and “Independence Day.” And considering the message the filmmakers were going for, I thought “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was updated fine.
And while I’m not a big Keanu Reeves fan, I did find him perfect for this role. Like his turn as Neo in “The Matrix,” playing a guy who doesn’t talk much and shows little emotion is tailor made for him.
Oh, and I did think that Gort and his wave of destruction was pretty cool.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While certain effects were really cool (like the aforementioned Gort and his nanobot plague), some effects were pretty shoddy for such a big budget film. Too many CGI helicopters and fuzzy shots of the space craft. Also, there were some logic holes, specifically why Klaatu is so compassionate on the one-on-one level yet he’s brought a wave of death and destruction that is intended to wipe out the entire human race.
The other point of contention I had was the overt product placement, which became too obvious even for me. I wonder how much McDonalds and Microsoft paid the production to be key points in the film.
Finally, I will say that while I thought this version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” captured the essence of the original, I was not a big fan of the original. So even a faithful retelling wasn’t the best science fiction I’ve seen.
On one hand, I didn’t mind too much how preachy the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was. On the other hand, I did get a little annoyed with how preachy the special features found on this disc were. There were some standard features, like a pretty informative commentary by writer David Scarpa, as well as a set of deleted scenes.
Things get preachy with “The Day the Earth was Green” featurette, which explains how 20th Century Fox green-lit initiatives to the cast and crew to make the production as environmentally friendly as possible. It’s a losing battle, really, considering how wasteful film production can be, but I don’t have a problem with them doing it. I just don’t like to get a sermon when I watch a DVD.
Other features include a really neat spotlight on extraterrestrial life called “Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life,” which focuses on everything from SETI to UFOs. There’s also a basic look at the remake process called “Re-Imagining ‘The Day.’”
Most interesting to the production was “Unleashing Gort,” which takes the viewer through the process of designing the classic robot. And while I don’t disagree with the final design in the film, I thought some of the early-concept Gorts would have been totally awesome in the final production.
Finally, if you opt to buy the BluRay or the 3-disc special edition, you’ll get a copy of the original 1951 film bundled with the set.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Modern sci-fi fans and environmentalists.