Entertainment Today and Beyond

Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

Review of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

day-the-earth-5It was pretty obvious that 20th Century Fox had a holiday turkey on its hands with its remake of the 1951 classic, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL when not a single advance review appeared anywhere until a day before it was released. Not exactly a sign of studio confidence. Initially, the film does show promise, introducing us to Dr Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), a biologist raising her deceased husband’s son Jacob (Jaden Smith, the son of Will, who’s role reeks of nepotism in the highest order). She and a group of renowned scientists are quickly summoned by Government officials to come up with a solution after a giant flying object is found to be on a trajectory with earth. At this point a lot of the basic plot points from the Robert Wise 1951 version start to play out.

The spaceship (a huge glowing orb in this version) comes to earth and lands in NYC’s central park (Washington DC in the original), unveiling an Alien traveler named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves who is very cold in the role) and his giant bodyguard robot Gort (a much more imposing figure than a man in a space suit from the original) who are sent on a mission to save the planet, although not necessarily its inhabitants. After being shot by an unseen soldier Klattu is brought to a military base and is inspected, and then interrogated about his motives. Kathy Bates, miscast and looking uncomfortable in the role of U.S of Defense Secretary, refuses to let Klattu speak at the U.N. so he decides to escape and pursue his mission with the Government hot on his heels.

The second half of the film is a real snoozer. For no explained reason, Dr. Benson befriends our alien visitor and goes on the run with him and her stepson. This generates very little in the way of excitement or interest. The only remaining question is whether Helen can reason with Klaatu in order to save humanity. Anticipation of the answer isn’t overly suspenseful. On a positive note, a brief appearance by John Cleese, as a Nobel Prize winning genius who pitches the benefits of the human race to Klaatu, is the only mild entertainment value in the film’s second half. Overall, the movie is flat – a clunker of the highest order. It has little in the way of any momentum and is totally void of any emotion. The 1951 version was a message of nuclear disarmament and peace. In this updated version it’s a message of environmental hazard but it just doesn’t resonate the same way.

I know judging movies is a subjective experience, but this is one of those times where I simply can’t understand how anyone can like this, let alone champion it. The Day the Earth Stood Still is 2008’s second worst film (behind The Happening) and I would imagine that its director, Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), will have a hard time getting work after this debacle. 1.5 Zombies out of 5.

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December 15, 2008 - Posted by | Reviews | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Good review, too bad you didn’t post it until AFTER I wasted my money to go see this. I really had high hopes for this flick, I really enjoyed Derrickson’s “Emily Rose” and Jennifer Connelly is a fav of mine. I’m wondering if you or anyone else experienced any problems with the sound in the theatre? It almost sounded muffled throughout the whole movie?

    Comment by robd99 | December 31, 2008 | Reply


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