Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

Well, I finally saw the 2008 re-make of The Day the Earth Stood Still. I borrow movies from the library, so if you're not getting into it you can quit any time. There's no cost other than your time. After watching it, I checked the reviews on imdb.com and found them scathing. I cite two here as typical.

The Day The Earth Stood Stupid, 13 December 2008

Author: JoeWho from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ouch! $11 times 2 wasted on IMAX. There are so many plot holes in this film I don't know where to begin. 1. A UFO is rushing towards NYC. Prediction is a cataclysmic collision. They assemble a team of scientists and rush them right to ground zero. Are you kidding? Never happen. 2, The UFO "lands" and the first people out are the scientists. Even ahead of the military. One walks right up to shake hands with the alien. Please! Never happen. 3.Klaatu is brought for interrogation. They bring him into a room with a lone interrogator and leave. Are you kidding? No guards in the room? Never happen. 4. The military decides to enclose GORT in giant steel panels. They built these in a matter of hours? How? Where? 5. After enclosing him, he is lowered into some underground laboratory that appears custom-made for him. Where did that come from? How did they get him there? 6. They break a diamond drill on GORT and say it will take 24 hours to fix. The boss barks "Fix it now"!. They send in a poor schlub who promptly screws on a new drill bit. Then the sucker dies. 7. Klaatu meets with another of his kind who has lived among us for 70 years and apparently become quite fond of us. Why didn't he convince the rest of the aliens not to destroy humanity? He came to the same conclusion that Klaatu eventually reaches. 8. The "swarm" is destroying everything man-made in its path. We see it destroy Giants Stadium in a matter of seconds. Then it is in Central Park. Why aren't all the buildings in Manhattan falling down? Klaatu hasn't done anything to stop them up to this point. Oh--I could go on and on. Then there are all of the plot clichés; Good scientist resists evil government. Frustrated step-mom/ disconnected stepson find redemption through love of dead father/husband. Boo hoo hoo. Stupid general fires all his big guns at indestructible alien. You know what's going to happen. Yup, general gets destroyed/vaporized/eaten. Oh, fugitive scientist, alien, and kid go to see kindly old professor. They always do that. And the authorities always show up there. This movie stinks on ice. I'm not a huge fan of the original but at least that had a story and decent acting.

The Day the Audience Shrugged Their Shoulders, 14 December 2008

Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a stunningly inept remake of the 1950's classic of the same name. It's one of those big-budget films so unfathomably dull and inane, you wonder how it ever got made. Whereas the original warned of the dangers of nuclear armament, this modern update boldly chides us for being mean to each other and not taking care of the environment. Gee, Hollywood, thanks for the swell insight! This Christmas season Hollywood teaches us that people can sometimes suck, but only that special kind of film can suck totally.

Although the entire production is horrible from top to bottom, the inert direction of Scott Derrickson and the randomly asinine script from David Scarpa bear most of the blame. The screenplay clearly went through arbitrary rewrites, perhaps after being focus-grouped to death, and shows not a single breath of imagination. Around every turn, it wastes opportunities and insults the intelligence of the audience and gives us not one authentic character or moment to connect to. Even when it thinks it's being cool (like the lame reveal that those alien spheres are actually "arks" trying to save animal life before the world is annihilated) the script fails miserably. One sphere that is shown on the back of a pick-up truck being attacked by flame-throwers in some foreign desert town inexplicably contains squid, because, well, the shadows of squid inside a giant sphere look kinda neat, that's why! At least the script teaches us one thing. Apparently all you need to do in order to survive an apocalyptic robotic alien insect attack that devours everything in sight is to hide under a bridge in Central Park!

The saddest part of the film is how the director wastes his talented cast. The always wooden Keanu Reeves was perfectly chosen to play the alien Klaatu, but even he seems to be disbelieving the words that are coming out of his mouth. Poor Jennifer Connelly, an immensely emotive and alluring actress, appears to be in physical pain or constipated for most the film, obviously stunned she agreed to star in this junk. Kathy Bates and John Cleese apparently showed up only for their paychecks and sleepwalk through their lines, and at one pivotal moment where Bates' Secretary of State attempts to show regret for some bad decisions made, she actually appears to fall asleep in her chair. And then there's poor little Jaden Smith, who appears bored to tears throughout the film and is given no direction from Derrickson except when he is asked to cry on cue in the supposed emotional climax of the picture that left me feeling sorry for all involved.

However, if anyone should be hung for this travesty, it's the producers, who must've run out of money at some point and filled the gap in funds with some nauseating product placement. How else do we explain Klaatu's trip to McDonald's for an important meeting with another of his kind?
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is easily the worst film of the year. At least "The Happening" had its accidentally humorous moments. This clunker offers no such relief. Even the special effects are done in a lazy and unimaginative manner. It's so awful, I was stunned into stillness while the rest of the audience seemed to shrug their shoulders.

My personal opinion? It was interesting, though flawed.

The titles of the reviews tell it all. "Boring and Annoying" and "Terrible disappointment ... a travesty." There were some fans of the re-make though.

Fortunately I watched the film with no expectations other than a bad remake. As a result, it was a better experience for me. If anything it made me want to see the original again.

Were you a fan of sci-fi flicks? Do you remember Steve McQueen's first film? (The two questions are related.)

In the meantime, have a great day.

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