I speak, of course, of the remake of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still‘.
I’d heard bad things about it, but it was on at IMAX, and I love that Waterloo experience: watching a film on a screen so big you have to keep turning your head from side to side. My rationalise was that an effects-driven movie would be okay on an IMAX screen, no matter how bad the film. But I was wrong. The only bad thing this film didn’t have was a paper-over-the-cracks voiceover narrative.
Which is something of a shame, because the basic updated premise is quite good. The original was about an alien deciding whether the dangerously warlike humans deserved a chance to survive; in the 21st century this becomes an alien deciding whether the dangerously non-green humans deserve a chance to put the damage they’ve done to the planet right. Which is a reasonable script driver for an updated version.
First off, there wasn’t even a vague homage to the classic 50s original. The fact that the initial bullet loosed off by a nervous sentry WAS in fact killing Klaatu; the way a woman saved the world with the line ‘Gort, Klaatu barada nikto’ without knowing what it meant; the way the saucer was seen innocently by children (in the remake, the kid’s a selfish, violent, Bush-like neoconservative-leaning little bastard) – all just wrong, wrong, wrong.
And the effects – swirling globes, okay, but that’s one of just two major SFX in the whole film, and the other one (little metal insects that devour manmade objects) is just bizzarre.
Now the characters. Jennifer Connelly is weak; nobody’d rely on HER to save the world. The little kid is a completely unsympathetic character that I wanted to boot in the ass the whole movie. The only good bit of casting is Keanu, his trademark blank stare not changing throughout.
The best actor in the film is a metal robot who does next to nothing.
[SPOILER AHEAD, as if I could SPOIL it more] And the script – who the hell wrote that? There’s no tie-up, no ending as such, just events rolling to the credits. You get the impression that whatever Jennifer achieved by persuading Keanu to head for home, it wouldn’t change the human race’s attitude towards its planet (which was the whole point.) There should have been a big landmark scene of Keanu finally being able to address the UN, of political leaders realising and actually agreeing to DO SOMETHING. Characters kept saying Earth was ‘on the brink’, but nobody seemed willing to actually do anything about it. As filmed, Keanu’s big farewell just wasn’t a supportable event and should have died in the editing room.
Bad, bad, bad. Keanu, klaatu barada nikto!