The Day the Earth Stood Still


I can’t say that I was expecting too much from this – yet another needless remake, but all the same it’s astonishing just how bad The Day the Earth Stood Still is.

Well, not bad, per se. There’s so little to criticise because the film is so… empty. I was bored within the first ten minutes, and it didn’t get any better. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is one of a score of scientists whisked away from her home one night without explanation.Day the Earth Stood Still, The It’s a ‘matter of national security’, apparently, and in the long run involves a lot of bright white light and CGI particle effects. Anyone familiar with the original will be aware that it’s Klaatu and Gort causing all the fuss, and whilst David Scarpa’s new screenplay has quite a few differences from the original, none of them are particularly worthy.

This time around it’s not the threat of nuclear war, however, but the devastation mankind has wreaked upon the planet. Or something. In fact, much more annoying than the idea of Hollywood taking advantage of any of a multitude of environmental crises is that fact that they’re too chicken to be specific. We’ve been bad, it seems, and those in a position of intergalactic power believe in capital punishment.

Keanu is pretty good, in the same way that Arnie was great at playing The Terminator and it’s great to see Jennifer Connelly in the lead role, even if she doesn’t really have much to do here. Kathy Bates is usually such a brilliant performer, but is wasted here also.

For a Summer Event Movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still is ever so dull. Even the special effects money shots (glimpsed in the trailer) are poor, which is particularly disappointing because WETA were involved. The film apparently cost 80 million dollars, but I reckon I could have done it with a couple of grand, and still had money left to buy the cast and crew icy poles afterwards.

The plot is oh so vague throughout, and completely devoid of any effective dramatic moments, and I’m struggling to remember any big Hollywood flick being so utterly deficient. Even Armageddon, my most hated film of all time, had stuff going on. Here, Gort is kinda cool, mainly cos they made him enormous, but he’s one of a handful of narrative elements that seem to go nowhere. The only two aspects of the film that caught my attention were the fact that the most senior character in the film is female (Bates’ Secretary of Defense, Regina Jackson), and that the USA is portrayed as a stubborn and uncompliant entity that only speeds up the impending apocalypse through their idiotic handling of the situation.

A complete non-event.

Rating: 1.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 28th December 2008
Hoopla Factor: 0.0 stars

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