The Day the Earth Stood Still Directed by: Scott Derrickson Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates, John Cleese Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13
Plot: Klaatu (Reeves) is an alien who visits Earth with his large robot counterpart. He is here on a mission and scientist Helen Benson (Connelly) is out to understand why, but so is the U.S. government led by the Secretary of Defense (Bates).
Who’s It For? I can't say teens, because it's kind of boring. And I can't say intelligent adults, because it's not really that thought provoking. I was hoping for a little humor with the fish (alien) out of water (outer space), but it just didn't happen.
Expectations: I never saw the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. But from what I understand, it's a thinking man's sci-fi. That sounded pretty good to me, especially after Eagle Eye didn't do it for me and Quantum of Solace didn't blow me away (the last two big action/sci-fi/thriller blockbusters).
Actors: Keanu Reeves as Klaatu: Whoa. Reeves proves he can underact. I didn't think this was possible. Klaatu comes to Earth and hangs out for a bit, does a hint of research and then simply must get from one place to the other. Look, Reeves has found gold with little emotion shown (Matrix being the main example). But here, he tones it down more than ever. He moves slow, and speaks slower. Whoa. Score: 3
Jennifer Connelly as Helen Benson: Just like most recent sci-fi films, a group of scientists are brought in quickly and given way too much information. Not only does Helen have to worry about saving the world, but also her step son Jacob (Smith). We're never given a reason to understand why she cares, or walks toward an alien when everyone else steps away. And what's even more annoying is her good friend and government scientist Michael (John Hamm aka Don Draper) isn't in the movie enough to talk about. Score: 4
Jaden Smith as Jacob: Smith proved he can act with his first film The Pursuit of Happyness. Here, he proves to be a below average kid actor. I never felt for him, and his entire story of wanting his father back never rings true. Score: 2
Kathy Bates as Regina Jackson: She is tough as nails as the Secretary of Defense. And the attack first, think later strategy is painful to sit and watch. Especially in the overdone hair and makeup. The casting is wrong here. Score: 2
John Cleese as Professor Barnhardt: Perhaps he's on screen for three minutes. But he's the one part of the film that works. It's just frusturating that he's able to show Klaatu a counter-point in that short amount of time. Clearly Klaatu isn't as smart as I am giving him credit for. Score: 6
Talking: Klaatu bases his decisions on one Chinese man who has been living amongst us for 70 years. Really? He couldn't get two opinions? I mean, he's traveled all this way. More importantly, from an entertainment aspect, this film missed a huge opportunity to have some comedy. I mean, Keanu is a dead-pan alien, the movie could have taken a page from Terminator 2 which does a great job of comedy with someone just learning the ways of humans. Score: 2
Sights: You know those special effects? Yeah, you pretty much see them all in the previews. Otherwise it's just Klaatu, Helen and Jacob driving around and having half conversations. The metal bugs eating their way through the East are the highlight of the visuals here, but the giant defense robot thing just seems a bit odd looking. I know this is taken from the original film, but it doesn't work in this update. Score: 4
Sounds: The score helps build suspense in the beginning of the film, much the way Armaggedon and Deep Impact do. I actually have no idea if that's a compliment or an insult. Score: 5
The original The Day the Earth Stood Still is supposed to be thought-provoking, and the previews make this film look action packed, but this update is neither. It's a flat, lifeless story with a flat, lifeless lead. Here's the plot, humans are flawed, humans are beautiful, the Earth is dying ... discuss. Oh wait, there is no discussion in this movie. And I'm sick of watching the news in films, to try and give some sort of real feeling to a world under attack.
Look, I think most will agree with Klaatu here: the Earth is more important than one species. Once the purpose of the spheres is discovered, I'm all in favor of hitting the reset button. We were spoiled this summer with good blockbusters like Iron Man and The Dark Knight. There are occasional military attacks on the robot which attempt to make you feel like stuff is going on in this film, but it's honestly boring. Yes, the Earth stood still, and your attention is supposed to, but by the end all I wanted was to get to the destruction and end this film.
Final Score: 3/10