The Day the Earth Stood Still

Year: 2008
Production Co: 3 Arts Entertainment
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: David Scarpa
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, James Hong
As solid and dependable as a Christmas blockbuster release as there's been. Go-to hack Derrickson would almost certainly have been contracted by Fox not to rock the boat, to produce a thrill ride with special effects and an easily marketable update to the iconic 1950's story, where atomic war is replaced with environmental catastrophe.

Leading man Reeves mannequin-hard good looks and wooden delivery were tailor made for Klaatu (apparently he insisted the famous line from Robert Wise's 1951 original remain, but I must have missed it - was it immediately after he's shot and Gort goes ballistic?) Pretty female lead and kid appeal are cemented by the likeable and adequate Connelly and Smith, and the plot is a by-numbers, rip roaring effects spectacular that satisfies and entertains even though you'll hear lots of critical whining to the contrary.

Derrickson didn't mess with the elements that worked too much - Gort's metallic body and baleful single light looks the same, albeit bigger and this time made of a sort of seamless, T 1000-like metallic skin rather than a rubberised suit containing a tall and klutzy actor. The slotting in of the environment for nuclear weapons means the plot is essentially the same, and CGI does the rest as the interstellar messenger arrives in Central Park in a giant glowing orb.

He emerges with his robotic guard and when he's shot by a trigger-happy soldier and taken to a top-secret military hospital where a human emerges from the placenta-like substance he's been wrapped in. But it's no ordinary human, it's a messenger from another world come to warn us that - in Klaatu's words "if the earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives".

The government has rounded up a cadre of scientists, engineers and specialists from many field and flown them to the landing site, and one of them is microbiologist Helen (Connelly), a woman who helps Klaatu escape from the clutches of the military-industrial complex so he can carry out his critical intergalactic mission.

Only then - to her horror - does she realise his mission. The Earth is too sick for humanity to survive any longer, apparently as it has no intention of changing its ways, and Klaatu represents a sort of galactic council who's decided humanity must be killed off so the Earth can live. After similar orbs to his landing ship collect specimens of life from around the world, it's time to clean up.

After standing stoically near Klaatu's ship and occasionally coming to life to defend itself, Gort (in a cute touch, it's the humans who name him, an acronym for 'genetically organised robotic technology') is carefully boxed up and taken to a top secret underground facility, and it's while they're trying to see what he's made of he comes to life to fulfil his part of the mission - dissolving into a stream of nanoparticle insectoids that escape from the underground base and start laying waste the surface of the Earth.

Only when Klaatu sees the tenderness between Helen and her stepson (Smith) does he realise there's hope - that despite being destructive, humans have love, and the race is on, etc, etc.

Nothing too challenging, just good, exciting holiday movie fare.

© 2011-2022 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au