Klaatu: Your planet?
I don’t know about the earth standing still but I certainly had a hard time moving after this one finished. I think I may have been in shock. I didn’t know they still made movies as bad as this. That’s me, I guess; the eternal optimist, thinking one day Hollywood will see the error of their ways. I’m starting to think there’s a greater chance of aliens landing in Manhattan though. You don’t take a highly regarded classic like “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and update it for no reason other than to make a few bucks. Sure, you can pretend there is purpose; you can cash in on the current environmental crisis fears by insinuating that aliens have come to earth to save the planet from the horrifically unappreciative human race. When you make a film with such disregard for quality though, you can’t do anything to convince me that you actually care about what you’re trying to say.
I will give Hollywood this though; they have finally found the perfect vehicle for the now veteran Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien in human form who has no capacity of expressing human emotion or understanding the intricacies of human nature and interaction. It might as well say that at the top of Reeves’ résumé so this is Reeves in his element. Honestly though, this is the first time I can say that Reeves’ presence in a film has absolutely nothing to do with why it is unwatchable. You know you have a problem when dialogue is so bad that it even drags Reeves’ acting down. In fact, having the familiar Reeves on board for this uneventful journey, alongside the strikingly beautiful Jennifer Connelly, at least gives us something pretty to distract us from the banality of the entire affair. Klaatu certainly rocks that three-piece suit though.
The earth is supposed to stand still on this particular day because aliens have descended upon Central Park in a giant weather sphere of sorts. It is a momentous occasion, one that could be the sign of the end of days. Yet, in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, panic hardly seems to be in the air. Panic comes from a fear of the unknown and an inability to see a solution to your problems but David Scarpa’s script is so painstakingly obvious and formulaic that you can see right through to the end at all times. I hope I’m not giving anything away here but as if this film would finish with humanity’s extinction. And when the devices used to create the melodrama are so laughably contrived (who knew that a white step mom and a black step son could have such hard times getting along?), at least you have the special effects to revel in. Mind you, when the special effects are even more ridiculous than the ensuing melodrama in a big sci-fi pic like this, what is there to keep you sitting still, let along standing?
You’ll never believe this but humanity, or at least the American government run portion of humanity, take immediate military action against the alien invaders before giving them the chance to make their case. This next bit is even more shocking. Apparently, violence is not the answer to solving our problems. I swear, I learned so many hard life lessons watching this movie. Perhaps the most important lesson though is that humanity will never learn. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” represents the same disposable and commercial interests that are the root of our environmental problems. Yet, here is it preaching against the very values that justify its existence. For that reason alone, I would consider this film to be one of the most hopeless (and hapless) films of the year. We’re essentially doomed so I say you can take it, Klaatu. Earth is all yours. We clearly don’t deserve it.
Review by Joseph Bélanger