The Day The Earth Stood Still: Movie Review
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, John
Cleese (an incredibly short cameo) and Kathy Bates
Director: Scott Derrickson
Klaatu barada nikto .
Three words which you will either know - or wonder what on earth I've been
drinking this early on in the festive season.
To a horde of geeks (myself included) these were the words spoken by Michael
Rennie's alien to his destructive robot Gort via Patricia Neal's character in
the 1951 original version of this film.
The 1951 film is often used in sentences with the words "classic" "seminal"
and "definitive" so it's with some trepidation that I approached a new version
with Keanu Reeves as the main star.
In a nutshell, Keanu stars as mysterious alien visitor Klaatu who causes
worldwide panic (including an economic crisis - sense any parallels here?) when
his ship lands in downtown Manhattan.
In true American style, he's shot the minute he descends from the craft and
is taken to a top secret military installation where he's questioned by Kathy
Bates' Regina Jackson, who acts on behalf of the President of the United States,
over why he's here.
Also among the scientists studying him is Jennifer Connelly's Helen Benson
(who in this update/ remake) has a troublesome step child (aka Will Smith junior
Klaatu comes round and warns them that he needs to speak to the leaders of
the world on an urgent matter which involves the future of the Earth itself...
but he's scorned and a chain of events is set in place which don't spell good
things for the planet's future.
Having seen the original seminal classic and definitive film (see what I said
above?) this latest version was always going to be a disappointment.
Coming at a time when we know the Earth's under threat from global warming
(be it manmade or otherwise - that's for another argument) it's easy to
appreciate the reason for Klaatu's visit - and perhaps the reason for the
Keanu has often been critiqued for his performances with some critics saying
he has an other-worldly presence -and that's kind of obvious here; his stiffness
as the alien visitor and awkward staccato acting seems to work - initially.
Although after a while it simply resorts to slow mo shots of him walking in a
suit while others try to emote around him in the face of immense danger.
Connelly's astro-biologist is saddled with little to do after initiating
first contact - she quickly becomes reduced to a taxi driver for Klaatu and is
left with the troublesome kid to deal with.
And talking of the kid - Jaden Smith is the kind of uber moppet who clearly
is going to have a big impact on the storyline of The Day The Earth
Stood Still . With daddy and abandonment issues, it's obvious how his
role has been included in the remake - although his involvement in the film's
denouement could be seen from another galaxy.
John Cleese has an all too brief cameo as Professor Barnhardt - and the
moment both he and Keanu stand in front of a blackboard discussing equations is
quite the surreal moment.
The opening tension and suspense is handled well and it's clear a lot of the
budget was thrown at the effects of this film - the new version of robot Gort is
pretty true to the original (and seems to channel some of the new Battlestar
Galactica baddies the Cylons at times); and scenes of destruction which show
cities and people simply being whittled away are pretty effective (even if the
attacks are akin to a biblical plague of locusts.)
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a disappointment - at times
underwhelming but visually impressive for the most part - but unfortunately the
message that we humans have to change our ways is lost a little among the