The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) Blu Ray Feb 7, 2010 18:00:57 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Feb 7, 2010 18:00:57 GMT -5
It has become very fashionable to bash the remake of Robert Wise's 1951 classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still. While there are some legitimate reasons to criticize the remake, there are also a lot of good qualities to the movie as well.
The mood of the remake is pretty spot-on as an update to what Wise so cleverly did back in 1951. It's eerie and somewhat pensive - which isn't all that far removed from the atmosphere of the original.
Keanu Reeves has been blasted for giving a fairly wooden performance, and that may be true to a point, but that was also partly how the character was written. While the original Klaatu was a little more emotive in some respects, the new Klaatu is more alien, showing a disconnect to human emotions. Reeves does what he can in the role, and he does come across as truly alien. This may be one of the few roles where that aspect of Reeves' acting has been a plus for him...
Jennifer Connelly, on the other hand, gives a very human, very emotional performance as Helen Benson, an astro-biologist who gets drafted by the government to help deal with the alien threat.
As with the original, misunderstandings and cultural differences serve to seal humanity's fate - or so things would appear.
Unlike the original, this version is an action packed, special effects heavy movie. Both work on their own levels, and some of the effects in the new version are stunning. The action scenes are exciting, and the movie moves at a pretty good pace, taking a breath every now and then to move the plot forward.
Now, in the original, Klaatu is here to help save humanity from the consequences of it's own actions. In the new version Klaatu is here to eliminate humanity in order to save the earth. The political/environmentalist agenda of the screenwriter & producers is laid bare, and instead of modernizing the movie it serves only to add huge plot holes.
When told that a group of alien races have decided to eliminate humanity because they are killing the planet (one of only a handful in the galaxy capable of sustaining life, apparently), Benson and her fellow scientists fail to come up with a valid argument against their destruction. Klaatu states that humanity has shown an unwillingness to change even with the Earth's fate in the balance. Of course, as the long term effects of industry and technology on the planet are far from known (and projections are hardly settled science), it would have made a lot more sense to simply say to the alien, "We haven't been able to prove what we're doing is harmful long term. We don't know for sure what is causing harm and what to do to fix it. Please give us that information - we'll change and make it right if you let us live. Give us the clean, safe technology that you have so that we may live."
Instead, the writer chooses to have these geniuses make less than stellar arguments. How is it resolved? Klaatu witness the emotional bonds between humans and learns a bit of humanity in the process. That's just an old cliche, and while there is a place for that in the movie (as there was in the original), the way this was turned into an environmental message film just works against the story. So does the ending. Humanity is denied power and technology? Don't these aliens all have safe, clean power and technology? Can't they share that technology as to prevent chaos and starvation on our planet?
Like I said, plot holes. Big ones.
Oh, and as nice an idea it is to have a woman capable of being Secretary of Defense, in reality it's a long way off. That was just a PC casting decision that makes no logical sense. If the movie were set 30 years in the future? OK, fine, that could work. But not today. Fairly or unfairly, right or wrong, it just won't happen any time soon.
In the end, the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still is a mixed bag. Some good things, some bad. Overall the movie rates a little more good than bad, but not enough to make this one the classic it could have (and should have) been.
The blu ray is gorgeous, though. The picture is pristine, and the sound is outstanding. Home theater buffs will certainly like this one. The extras are really good, too - and the blu ray comes with the original 1951 classic (which looks fantastic on blu ray as well), so it's definitely a complete package.
If you're not expecting too much, then this can be an entertaining movie to watch. If you're looking for a new classic? Well, you might want to pass on it (or lower your expectations).