Saturday, December 13, 2008

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008) - Movie Review

Scott Derickson’s remake of the classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still” behaves as the film’s administrative personnel who does not give a chance for dialogue with Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), Derickson does not provide the same to the script. The theme is fitting for the current times but poorly executed. It never made a deal with what it wanted to say and what would the people expect. Obviously the effects would have been the predominant factor but we as a audience have now in terms with the Hollywood studio production house that anything is possible. And there is no need for a greater proof by amping the X factor in this modern day “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. What missed was how Klaatu who comes as a distant emotional alien in human form come to see the better part of the humans.

Except for the fact that alien space ship arriving with a humanoid Klaatu and his guard Gort, this sparsely goes along with the original. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is no more a secretary but an astrobiologist. She is one of the film scientists who get their midnight unexpected, unanticipated and classified calls and always followed with the pawn picking them up with answers “I do not have the privilege to say that” or plainly “I do not know”. She has a stubborn and unresponsive step son Jacob (Jaden Smith) replacing Bobby from the original. He does not like Klaatu right from the start and he does not like Helen as she is not her mother and believes to be stuck with him rather than really loving him.

The fear in the people exists and the attack on the unknown is the motto taken by the military in both the films. I know many see Reeves as a bad actor but here he produces Klaatu in a reasonable form for the film. In the original, Michael Rennie played him more closer to human which fitted it and Reeves distances him from those emotions in this film for the script keeping to see him as an alien till the end. He does not form a bond with any one and even with Benson it is a more cold approach in maintaining her at a territory. The screenplay makes him the judge on the human’s unmerciful treatment of the planet. He has concluded from his fellow alien Wu (James Hong) report who has resided here in Earth for seventy years that humans are incorrigible and destructive but at the same time Wu decides to stay as it is his home now and there is an unexplainable other side to the same humans as well. We are emotional in loving and caring in excruciating circumstances but we truly fail to learn from those as the situation changes.

Kathy Bates as Secretary of Defense is the stupid and adamant typical Hollywood US politician. Why cannot there be a sensible politician in the Hollywood block buster who has reasons to behave as the arrogant slimy diplomacy and still maintain the character. And the military in the film are passionate to blow up things. They want to shoot missiles, fly down the space ship and bomb it till smokes engulfs the world and they fire at will till the bullets run out. They do this after being outplayed and the attacks left indestructible space ship, Gort or Klaatu without a speck of dust. Why one of the military general step back and think for a while instead of wasting bullets. I do not feel this is the correct portrayal if you are thriving for reality.

The film has some strong points when it lets the discussion role. As in when Klaatu meets Professor Barhardt (John Cleese) and the consistent attempt of Helen in convincing Klaatu that we humans have the capability to change. When there is wobble in concept of what needs to be said with what nature, then it is a half baked result. Here it is not an “Independence Day” but tries to for soothing the crows seeking those and it also wants to pay the respect to the original. Nothing wrong in mixing those if the quality is good. Instead it is patches of good work in a script full of mad characters and unconvincing change of mind in others.

We are in the age of technology which appears to have no limits. In films there is nothing that cannot be done if the right backing of studio is there in giving the CGI effects of nearly everything. It has developed into an omnipotent tool accessible to the better and the worst of the creative minds. The original leapt the time where it was made into the realm of effects and possibility. It did something that particular generation could not have imagined but at the same time staying honest to the script. Now a day we are not awed by the graphics unless films like “300” comes out with something more. We go inside this film knowing to see the cities being turned into ash and powers of impossibility in the palm of Klaatu’s hands. Hence it is the story which should take precedence and it avoids in giving Klaatu the time to talk to others. While they show the people panic and media drooling for material covering it, there is never a third eye view on the state of it. When the top personnel choose to bombard with attack rather than reason which goes on till the end and if I was Klaatu, I would have no hope of these people changing. Klaatu looks at the relationship of Benson and Jake which starts as placid and grows with hope in the end. This is the other side his fellow alien was talking about. But what Klaatu does not understand is when the situation goes back to normal and when desperation is not there, will we change? The answer is tough as billion different minds work in billion different ways but definitely not a factor for a mind change to an alien in ceasing the attack on us.

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