Movie Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still – 2008

December 22, 2008 at 8:02 PM (Movie Reviews)

When I am able to watch a movie, I will do my best to give you my thoughts on it.  I expect you to listen to what I say unquestioningly!  Just kidding, I understand that my taste in movies certainly branches off the path of the “norm”.  Gosh knows there are movies that I love that major critics have panned and vice versa.  Now that I’ve given you the proverbial grain of salt, please read on and enjoy!

***

I was pretty excited to go see this movie.  I saw the original 1951 version as part of a Science Fiction History course in college and feel that I am a better person for it.  When I saw the trailers for this remake, I thought that the original movie with a modern budget and special effects would turn out to be something special.

Boy was I wrong.

The acting was not bad, but the story and plot had much to be desired.

The primary characters are played by Keanu Reeves (Klaatu), Jennifer Connelly (Helen Benson), and Jaden Smith (Jacob Benson).  The wooden acting required for the role of Klaatu was well within the limited range of Keanu Reeves.  Jennifer Connelly was solid and more than passable in her role as doctor of biology.  Jaden Smith really shined in this one, and while it is just short of the coming out party that some roles have provided for child actors, I’m sure the next role he has in a movie in the future will give him some instant recognition.

This remake is not all that different from other movies that have been “modernized” and redone.  Basically they try to keep the spirit of the movie but change everything else, minus a few of the most important events.  Unfortunately for The Day the Earth Stood Still, they would have been better off taking the script and everything from the original version.  Sure, the special effects add a lot of glamour to the shindig, but along the way they lost the essence of the original movie.  Oh, they make some vague references to Man doing a bad job of taking care of the Earth and that the Earth would be better off without us, but the crux of the problem is this:  Keanu Reeves’ character has decided that Man does not deserve to live and is going to exterminate the race.  However, he spends the entire movie witnessing people at their most evil and depraved moments but finally changes his mind when seeing a mother and son hug in an emotional moment.  It doesn’t really make much, if any sense.  There was no change over time, and while an immediate switch in view might have been possible, I don’t see how it could have worked the way the director laid it out for us.  In short, bad plot with little plausibility.  Personally, I can only suspend disbelief for so long.

The special effects are certainly nice and not overdone.  They are there in all the right places and don’t manage to overshadow the movie itself, as has happened with science fiction ventures in the past (Hello, I Am Legend zombies!).  Everything looks good, looks believable/realistic, and fits in nicely.

If you have seen the 1951 version of this movie, under no circumstances should you pay money to view this movie.  Don’t ruin something that should be remembered fondly and well.  If you haven’t seen the original, then wait for this one to come out on DVD and wait for a poor sucker of a friend to rent/buy it.  Don’t spend the money.

Rating: 1.5/5

-Ben

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