Friday, January 09, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Why do all the aliens only come to the United States? Are there no other countries that appeal to them? I'm just sayin'...

Stuff blowing up. Great special effects. Unfortunately, that's just about all there is to the modern The Day the Earth Stood Still.

We miss the old version. Sure, it was a talkfest, but the talk was between great actors Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. I'm afraid Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, try as they might, can't measure up. One improvement, however, is Jaden Smith as Connelly's stepson. He is miles above young Billy Gray in the acting department. And, because Jaden is a little older, we get that pre-teen angst which seems pretty true to life.

The beginning is a homerun in my estimation. Dr. Benson, an astrobiologist (Connelly), is spirited away at night by the military to join other scientists to deal with the fact that an asteroid is speeding toward Manhattan at a rate that can't be stopped. As it turns out, it's Klaatu (Reeves), and when shot by an eager soldier, he's rescued by Gort, who, in this version, is a bit more organic. But huge.

But Klaatu doesn't want to be rescued. Apparently he wants to be taken into custody and never seen again. Actually, that's just the beginning of rational breakdowns for this movie. However, the whole set-up of Klaatu coming to earth, and scientists discovering just what he's about, is terrific.

But it only goes down from there. After Klaatu escapes, the movie almost virtually stops even though he's in motion. There are one or two interesting scenes, especially concerning the earth's planned demise, but they don't go anywhere.

In the original, we had Patricia Neal's character saved by Gort, and she stops him from destroying the planet a bit too soon. That's skipped over in this version. And Klaatu's (Rennie) big speech to the United Nations, a moment of drama that proved to be the end of the movie, is nowhere to be found in the modern version. As a consequence, the movie ends without anyone in power knowing why Klaatu was there in the first place. It ends quietly, without a whimper. Except from the audience.

The original didn't have really cool special effects, like the Giants stadium being disintegrated, but it did have pacing and drama, all the things missing in this miscast and goalless outing.

Thumb's down.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home