Saturday, January 03, 2009

Movie Review - The Day the Earth Stood Still

I've always said that the best thing about sci-fi is that I even enjoy the bad films because even they aspire to be something more and in the process they are entertaining. The Day the Earth Stood Still is not a bad film. I'm not saying that at all. It's certainly not high art either. It falls somewhere in between.

The movie is a remake of a 1951 sci-fi classic. It sticks pretty close to that original with the main difference being our choice for tool of our own destruction. In the original, the obvious criticism was of the arms race, the military and nuclear weaponry. While still showing those elements, the remake concentrates on how we are destroying our environment. A lot of the lines by Klaatu could just as easily be coming from Al Gore or the World Without Us, using phrases such as "tipping point" and:

Klaatu: "If the Earth dies, you die. If the human race dies, the Earth survives."

Knowing his own strengths (and weaknesses), Keanu Reeves has picked a role that doesn't show a lot of emotion. Reeves plays Klaatu, an emissary from another planet, who is sent to analyze whether we are a race worth saving. Our response to his arrival on the planet pretty much sums up our violent tendencies and makes the aliens immediately doubtful of our worth.

There has been some merciless criticism of this film, mostly by fans of the original. I hate to break it to you, but most people have not seen the original and if they have, a lot consider it very dated. I've seen the original, rightly view it as a seminal film, but I don't consider it so untouchable that it couldn't be re-imagined for a modern audience. After all, Citizen Kane, it is not. It was a glorified 50's B-movie with a message. And that is all the new one is doing also. M Night Shyamalan's The Happening tried to do much the same this year, but I believe this film is better, more entertaining, and more effective in it's message.

Other people criticize the movie because it has a message at all. I hate that excuse. What is the point of making something, whether it be a painting, a book, a movie, a song, whatever, if you are not trying to say something? Is our goal to have a bunch of faceless, vacuous crap that people will eat up like candy and forget about as soon as they step out of the theater? No, thank you.

Reeves is serviceable. Connelly really doesn't have to use any of her acting chops here but is fine. Kathy Bates probably has the meatiest role as a government official.

The special effects are good and the movie is not too long. Overall, the movie is good, not great. I was entertained and I appreciated the sentiment. Grade: B-


CyberKitten said...

I've been in two minds about this - especially as I liked the original so much. Maybe I'll borrow the DVD off someone.

Sadie Lou said...

I loathed the Happening. Oh my goodness. It had some occasional moments but for the most part--UGH! I can't believe I tortured myself that long. What in the HAY was up with Mark Wharlburg (sp) in that movie??
Sheesh--it was weird.

Connelly NEVER, EVER uses her acting chops in action movies. Did you see HULK? I have a 12 year old son so I had to watch it and I swore to myself I wouldn't count it against her--I also said I wouldn't watch another action movie with her "wide-eyed" stare in it either. Might skip this one.

dbackdad said...

It's frustrating with Connelly. She has obvious talent and was brilliant in A Beautiful Mind and has had good performances in stuff like Requiem for a Dream and Little Children. But all too often, she is just window dressing. Granted, she's absolutely gorgeous window dressing, but it's still a waste. I agree with you about HULK.

Antimatter said...

I have to agree, after the critical mauling this film has received I was expecting utter trash. While I would stop short of calling it a good film - I think it has some serious plot, structure, and characterization problems - it's a decent one, and for a mainstream blockbuster it has a surprising amount of substance.

download movies said...

I must admit that sci-fic movies are really interesting one to watch. I have the original too but this one proves to be better that the original.