The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still has more suspense in it’s title than it does in the entire movie. I’m game for any good science fiction, apocalyptic thrillers. Armageddon, 28 Days Later, both old and new Planet of the Apes, Deep Impact, and Independence Day are all movies that I could watch over and and over again. Some of them are visually insane. Others are incredibly funny and a even few are emotionally deep, but they all share the fact that they never lose their entertainment value. The Day the Earth Stood Still, sadly, manages to include none of this.
The movie is a remake of the 1951 film of the same title which used the current cold war fears and did it fairly well. This one chooses to pay more to our environmental fears, a timely choice, but the film ends up focusing more on our military’s inability to be anything but aggressive and violent. (In essence, this may be just as timely.) But a lack of plot, character development or unique “end of the world” choices leave The Day the Earth Stood Still pretty slow, boring and stiff.
In the near future, a large orb appears in Central Park bringing with it a man name Klaatu. Is he a friend or foe? The movie never really figures out. Klaatu has also come to earth with a bodyguard in the form of a huge, all-powerful robot. Many of the top scientist are kidnapped by the military to figure out what to do next. This includes a astrobiologist named Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), who has to temporarily leave behind her stepson Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith) without even an explanation. You’d think with the stealth stops the government pulls out to extract these persons of interest and hit them with the truth about a potential New York annihilation that they’d at least listen to them. With the Secretary of Defense at the helm, played by Kathy Bates, the scientist are treated as pretty expendable and the government does whatever it wants to do anyway.
Helen feels like Klaatu is more of an emissary who came to help them, but Klaatu believes our kind will never change, and we pretty much scare other interstellar life with our stupid choices and crazy desire to somehow hurt each other. She gets it in her head that she may be the only person who can open a dialogue with Klaatu and convince him to save humankind. And actions always end up speaking louder than words. (Missiles, guns and violence angers the aliens while showing signs of love, caring and sacrifice will save us.) However it seems these aliens have decided that being emotionless is the best way to live peacefully. Keanu Reeves acts out his most stoic face yet.
The film lacks any emotion or suspense or pressure, and this is its biggest failure. It never once made me care or even see the err of my ways. It didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. It did make me very leery of the government which did everything I would not do if given the choice to try to kill and restrain things that are evidently stronger and smarter than we or anything we’ve ever built. How many times can you “attempt” to shoot down something that will disarm you and incinerate you no matter what you try.
With a great cast (Sexy males galore. Kyle Chandler, Jon Hamm, Keanu oh my!), their efforts are wasted with dry dialogue and typical decisions. Little Smith was a bright spot (When that kid cries, I cry), but there just weren’t enough bright spots to keep me wanting more or more than a little bit.