Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I went in to this film, watching it on DVD via Netflix at home, knowing that quite a few critics panned it for being mediocre and not worthy of watching it. As always, I go into a film without taking critics’ evaluations into account because I want to go into a movie fresh and not have a mindset that a film is going to be bad or great, giving me a predisposition one way or another. But I couldn’t help but glance at a web site that had an article about The Day the Earth Stood Still with the word, mediocre, in the headline. So I read through it briefly seeing that the movie was not worthy of paying nearly ten dollars to see it.

Boy, were they right!

I’m glad, now, that I didn’t venture out to see this flick in theaters when it was released. The article I read from that critic was right, but I think they went a little easy on this film because I thought it was worse than what they wrote.

First off, I thought they had a pretty stellar cast, with Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, and Kathy Bates playing some of the main characters. But as it turns out, their talents were completely wasted in this film. But that’s not what failed this movie.

Let me go over some of the things I didn’t like about this flick.

The beginning started off strong, showcasing a little bit of the special effects we will see in the rest of the movie, which is some bright sphere that shows up in the 1920s on some mountain that Keanu Reeves human character is climbing and camping out on. He sees the brightness and investigates, seeing the orb and paces forward towards it as he stretches out his hand to feel it. The screen goes black and we see Keanu passed out on the ground. He comes to and gets up, looking at his hand, and we see a square scar on top of his hand as if something was cut out of it and healed immediately.

The film then goes on and shows that it’s the present; and this is when the film goes downhill for me.

We’re introduced to Jennifer Connelly’s character and her adopted child. Now, at first, I thought it was a little girl because with that mop on top of the child’s head, I think anybody would make the same mistake unless they were familiar with Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith. The kid had attitude from the get-go. He was instantly unlikable, in my opinion, and he really had gotten under my skin as the film progressed. As I watched any scene that Jaden was in, it took me back to when I first viewed Jurassic Park II, and how they introduced Jeff Goldblum’s adopted daughter (which there was clearly no need to have her in that flick as well). Yes, the original The Day the Earth Stood Still had a little boy in it, but at least he had been needed in the story as he helped Klaatu get to know human civilization. Jaden’s character just complained and whined throughout the film, constantly giving attitude and even snitched on Klaatu! What a little bastard! Spoiler alert, but when he was dying from the microbe bugs at the end, I was hoping his head would explode sending that bush on top of his noggin into space.

The one scene that Jaden Smith clearly couldn’t pull off was the scene at Arlington Cemetery. He had just asked Klaatu to bring his dad back to life, after witnessing that ability earlier, but Klaatu said he couldn’t. It wasn’t explained, but I’m guessing he can’t bring back the dead after the person has been gone for a very long time. Klaatu walks away and Jaden is on his knees in front of his dad’s grave, bowing his head and trying to succeed in appearing grief-stricken. It’s almost laughable…I’ve seen better performances in a kindergarten play. Jaden’s parents need to stop getting movie producers to do favors for them by sticking their untalented kids in movies where they undoubtedly don’t belong.

But enough of that little bad actor, let’s get into the other aspects of the film. Kathy Bates as the Secretary of State was utterly wasted in this film. As a very talented actress, she really didn’t have much to do and that’s a shame. Her performances were basically telegraphed in and it didn’t seem like she even wanted to be there. Jennifer Connelly was effective as the scientist needed with all the other scientists and doctors as they hauled them off to the giant sphere that suddenly arrived. Now, the scene where they get to the humongous orb and see that something is about to happen, I thought to t myself, finally. The alien comes out and it plays out like the original where a soldier decides to fire his gun and wounds the alien. The difference here is that the alien actually looks like an alien and that’s pretty cool. Out comes G.O.R.T. and it plays out pretty cool, even the alien code words from a weak Klaatu that stop him. You might notice I used an acronym for the mechanical being that comes out to protect Klaatu and I’ll explain later why that is. The scene where Klaatu appears from the sphere is short-lived and quickly cuts to the hospital, but it does follow the original pretty well here. When at the hospital, another cool shot is showcased here when they discover that the alien skin is not actual skin but a biomechanical suit that melts away to show the human body that it was protecting. You kind of guess right here that the sphere that showed up in 1928 took a DNA sample from the climber and used it to clone a human to create Klaatu’s body. Not a bad twist to the original. We’re then treated to the boring rigmarole of Klaatu going to a different part of the base to be tested by polygraph, but then he escapes. From here, the movie gets pretty boring, almost a long drawn out searching for Klaatu.

What's kind of interesting is when the army contains the giant robot that was left in front of the orb to protect it (I guess) and they transport it to some sort of bunker to see if they can probe it and test on it. It's here that they call it G.O.R.T., "Genetically Organized Robotic Technology." So, instead of a name like Klaatu claims in the original, in this one the humans name it. But at this point, the movie gets a little interesting.

I won't give away the ending, although it doesn't really have any twists nor is it worth hiding it from anybody, but the bottom line is that this movie is very boring and doesn't warrant a viewing.

My final "bit" on this one? Boring sci-fi schlock that Hollywood just couldn’t get right, with wasted talent from actors and actresses and too much screen time from that annoying little mop-headed boy.

And one off-the-cuff topic I wanted to throw out there is podcasts. I love to listen to movie podcasts and there’s one I found out there that is number one in discussing horror movies and that’s the Horror Etc. Podcast. You can find them at http://www.horroretc.com/. The hosts really know their stuff and are very entertaining when conversing about horror movies.


Zacery Nova said...

As another one of those boys with mops on top of their heads, I guess I shouldn't star in any movies (like that's news to me!):D

Nah, just kidding - I'm glad you like horroretc too and your blog has intrigued me. I've subscribed to it via the blogger 'blog feed' thingamajig.

BTW: I haven't seen this movie, but it looked kinda boring to me as well, and I hate little kids in movies like this. Why are they even there?

- Zac (new reader)

Movie Maniac said...

Thanks Zacery! I appreciate the feedback and thanks for looking. Yeah, I find I can't get by a day without listening to Ted and Tony. Take care.