This is the reason why remakes shouldn't be made.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is now available on Blu-ray.
We should've known better than to hand over the reigns of Robert Wise's
to a new
generation. We were warned that remaking classics is risky business,
especially casting Keanu Reeves in role of Klaatu. We thought we were so
much smarter than the previous generation. We thought we'd send home a
powerful message of Earth's responsibility to take care of itself. Did we
listen, 20th Century Fox? No, because we thought we could do a better job.
We failed, and now Earth audiences have seen this 2008 remake and have been
obliterated by particle generators and overly serious bad acting.
The original film was very much a tale of its time, yet its solid direction,
solid acting and powerful message still resonates today. Getting past the
goofy dialogue of "Gee, Mister," Wise's film still works. The new 2008
version reminds the audience of today's smugness in filmmaking and reliance
on visual effects.
The beauty of the original film was its reliance on story. The visual
effects came secondary as a way to move the story along. It wasn't the other
way around. The visual effects in the 2008 remake are spectacular
(supervised by the fine Jeffrey Okun), but they overwhelm what little story
there is. It's almost as if the filmmakers thought they were smarter than
Wise and his production team.
Imagine the story meetings:
"We'll make GORT bigger and have no personality!"
"We'll use the original's idea of a single mother raising a child against
overwhelming galactic odds, and we'll cast Will Smith's kid in it! Wow,
we're being topical and hip!"
"We'll cast Keanu Reeves as Klaatu! He's even more robotic than GORT!"
"We'll suck out any humor, any humanity, any warmth that was in the original
and make this a lifeless movie!"
"Green screen...green screen in every scene!"
"And we'll bombard the audience with super visual effects and maybe they'll
overlook our story and acting flaws!"
Remakes have been with us since cinema's early days. There have been some
horrific ones, and even the masters like Cecil B. DeMille remade their own
films. There's nothing wrong with remaking older movies as long as there's a
compelling reason to do so. A remake should be superior to the original. If
not, then don't bother.
This movie is lifeless. It seems longer than it really is. The cast is given
a script so serious that one wonders if it was actually developed by
independent filmmakers. No one cracks a smile. No one seems to be mystified
that an alien light sphere has landed in the middle of Central Park (aliens
never seem to land in, say, Bolivia). It's as if the filmmakers borrowed
from every cliche in the bad science fiction book. Have scientists walk
around in special environmental suits, and have the military be a bunch of
buffoons in the face of an extraterrestrial enemy.
Keanu Reeves is so stoic, so wooden that he could've played GORT. Why is
that the original GORT had personality, even for being a robot? He was fun!
Back to Keanu. He's always been sort of an anomaly. Sometimes I admit I've
enjoyed his one-dimensional acting style. He seemed right in the first
"Matrix" movie before that franchise took a nosedive. He was even tolerable
in "Point Break" and "Speed." Yet his extremely limited range shows here in
this movie. He's completely without emotion, even when he has an epiphany in
the final act. "Whoa, humans are worth saving."
The relationship between Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith is unbelievable.
There is no chemistry at all. Their backstory is devoid of any depth. He's a
brat (in the movie, not in real life I'm sure), and illicit no reaction from
the audience. Connelly runs around trying to look like a scientist, but I
believed that as much as I believed Denise Richards in "The World is Not
Much of the original movie's ideas are thrown out. There is no GORT
kidnapping a screaming Jennifer Connelly and we never go inside the alien
sphere. I'm sure if the filmmakers had a chance, and had GORT kidnapped
Connelly, she would've beaten the metal crap out of him and escaped. It
might've been exciting. GORT goes around destroying everything he sees. That
wasn't his purpose in the original. He was a space cop who only defended
himself when necessary. The poor robot has been reduced to a walking digital
Klaatu basically walks around doing nothing. The original Klaatu had a
purpose. Warn humans of their impending doom if they threaten the rest of
the galaxy. Reeves' Klaatu seems bent on destroying the Earthlings. It isn't
until a revelation of some very bad acting by Smith and Connelly that he
realizes humans are worth saving. Too little, too late, and I still didn't
The Blu-ray (a Blu-ray of the original 1951 version and "digital copy" are included)
is sharp and natural looking. The movie has a dark overcast pall over it,
with brightness and sharper details coming from the visual effects.
Everything looks spectacular, so even if the movie doesn't hold up, the
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is excellent with a lot of pop. During
Klaatu's lie detector test, the electrical sound effects will actually give
the viewer a bit of a jolt from their seat. The soundtrack is layered with
traditional science fiction sound effects of booms, whooshing, flying
particles, and zaps. This is worthy of a home theater sound demo disc if
certain scenes are used.
This was a remake not worth doing.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © 20th Century Fox. All