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December 12, 2008
The Day The Earth Stood Still Review
— Posted by John Campea
Thanks for checking out our The Day The Earth Stood Still review.
I still remember back when it was first announced that Keanu Reeves was cast to play Klaatu in the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. There was a very mixed reaction. Some people seemed to think that while Reeves isn’t all that good of an actor, he was nonetheless a decent fit for the part. Others… well… the majority of people seemed to this this was a disastrous choice that would be sure to lead to the film’s ruin and destruction on a Gort like scale.
Then Comic Con came and some people had the chance to watch some footage from the film and even see a rough trailer… it actually didn’t look all that bad. There even started to be some sense of enthusiasm amongst some fans and I’ll admit I was one of them. One of the lines from teh trailer that struck me the most was the one Klaatu says to Jennifer Connelly’s character: “If the earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives”. The line gave me that little shiver of coolness and doom at the same time. I was officially looking forward to the flick. So did it meet my upgrade expectations? No… but it wasn’t as bad as I first feared either.
THE GENERAL IDEA
The synopsis for The Day The Earth Stood Still looks something like this: “Keanu Reeves tops this adaptation of the seminal 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still with this 20th Century Fox production. Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) helms the story of an alien traveler, Klaatu (Reeves), who heads to Earth along with his bodyguard robot, Gort, to deliver a warning of planetary destruction if the people of the world fail to bring peace to their civilizations. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates co-star in the Ryne Douglas Pearson-penned film.”
As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I really don’t find Keanu Reeves all that good of an actor. However, sometimes it’s less about talent and more about “fit”. In my opinion, Reeves was a solid fit for the character of Klaatu. Klaatu usually has that same sort of “where am I? This seems strange. Whoa.” disposition that Reeves usually portrays in most of his films. For this film, it’s just what he character called for and thus it worked for me.
Some of the visual effects in the movie were jaw dropping (not all of them… I’ll get to the bad ones in a minute). The one effect in particular that I think was most effective was the one we see in the trailers where a “cloud” was evaporating everything in its path. As this “cloud” raced across the country it gave me a grave sort of “holy crap they’re all screwed!” feeling… which is a great one to give your audience.
The first 15 minutes of the movie were quite effective in getting the story up and running and creating a decent sense of mystery at the same time. Who was this visitor? What are his motives for being here in the first place? Why does he look like that dude from The Matrix?
I had forgotten that John Cleese has a part in the movie, so when he showed up on screen it was a pleasant surprise. He’s not in the movie very long, but when he is there it feels like the quality of the movie is kicked up a notch or two.
While the destructive “cloud” effects were done very well… just about all the other effects shots were nothing short of piss poor in my opinion. Gort look ridiculous and completely fake every second he was on screen (Gort is the giant robot protector of Klaatu) even even simple mundane effects shots like helicopters looked pathetic. I’m don’t know why they didn’t just use real helicopters for the shots. I’m not even talking combat shots… just simple flying from point A to point B kind of shots that for some reason they decided to do in all CGI and it looked like something out of a 1999 video game cut scene. With today’s technology and talent out there, there is no excuse for that type of poor work on a multi million dollar film project like The Day The Earth Stood Still.
The Kid. Dear sweet heavens the kid. Jennifer Connelly’s step son is played in the movie by Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith. The kid flat out annoyed me every single unpleasant second he was on the screen. There are some child actors out there who can do their jobs… and Smith did pretty well in The Pursuit of Happyness with his father… but he was just annoying as hell in this movie.
It wasn’t just the actor… it was also the kid character. Totally unnecessary to the movie. The boy’s father died a year ago and he is left to be raised by his step mother (Jennifer Connelly). Ok fine… whatever. But the movie constantly has to stop and remind us of this fact. As a matter of fact… with global destruction and the annihilation of the entire human race imminent… Connelly has to stop trying to save the human race for a moment to console the stupid kid about his dead daddy issues and delay rushing to the city to save the world so she can wipe his little stupid tears from his little stupid face because he’s sad that his dad is gone. CONSOLE HIM LATER!!!!!
The dialog in the film is pretty brutal. I understand why Klaatu’s dialog may be purposefully strange and offsetting (I mean after all he is an alien) but that didn’t explain why Connelly’s or Kathy Bates’ dialog (she plays the secretary of defense) had to be so painful to listen too.
This film could have very easily spiraled into some sort of environmental political message movie. It was pretty clear to me that the director didn’t want that to happen, and I’m glad he didn’t… but he tried so hard to make sure it didn’t come off as one that it left the “message” of the film feeling vague which made the movie lose some of its bite.
The Day The Earth Stood Still ends up being an enjoyable in places / painful in places sort of movie with just enough enjoyable stuff that it’s sort of worth seeing, but enough painful stuff that you’d probably never suggest a friend go see it either. I ended up not minding it too much, but at the same time wouldn’t say I “liked” it either. Overall I give The Day The Earth Stood Still a 5 out of 10.
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