Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I've got a little bit a writer's block going tonight and not a lot of time, so I'm simply going to write about the last movie I saw. I have a bunch of cable movies saved on my dvr, and sometimes I'll watch 20-30 minutes of a flick in bed before falling asleep. It's not the idea way to view films, of course, but these are usually movies for which I have fairly low expectations. They don't merit the blu-ray big screen treatment, in other words.

Anyway, I started watching the new version of The Day the Earth Stood Still Friday night. I knew that it had bombed in the theatres and that it starred Keanu Reeves, so the bar was set extremely low. I had almost zero knowledge about the original version, except that the line "klaatu barada nikto" was featured in it, and I only knew that reference from Army of Darkness.

I probably watched 40 minutes or so Friday night, and I was mildly impressed. This is a good role for Keanu- he's supposed to be wooden, and Keanu does wooden like no other. I liked where the plot was going; there was mystery and suspense about what the aliens wanted and why they were here (again, remember that I knew nothing about the original film).

Thus, I was looking forward to finishing the film last night. Maybe this didn't do well because it differed from the original, I thought. Or maybe people just expected a big, bombastic sci-fi movie and this didn't deliver. Perhaps I'd stumbled onto something that, if not exactly a hidden gem, was a passable film that had been underrated.


The second half is pure drudgery. The coolest thing about the movie is this giant robot thing that shoots down any attacks made on the big, glowing orb that's sitting in Central Park. But the army catches the giant robot and examines it in an underground bunker. Meanwhile, we get a lot of pleading from Jennifer Connelley about how humanity can change and a lot of whining from Will Smith's son about how he wants his father back.

Ultimately, the aliens are intent on saving the Earth by eliminating humanity. If they'd done it by sending an army of the robot things, it might have been cool. Instead, their instruments of Armageddon are hordes of microscopic black termites that simply chew through everything. If big glowing spheres flying around and CGI flying black clouds destroying CGI stadiums and buildings are your idea of terrifying, this is the movie for you.

I fast-forwarded through a lot of the last 20 minutes, which ideally should have been the most exciting part. I was just bored and wanted it to be over. The worst part is that if I ever see the original 1950's version, I've now somewhat tainted the experience. This isn't a terrible film, which is too bad because it doesn't even qualify for "It's so bad it's good" status. It just feels uninspired and lethargic.

Nolanometer final grade: D(ull)


Lance Christian Johnson said...

I own the original, and it's fantastic. Sure, it is a bit dated, but the emphasis is on the story, and it plays like a really good, extended episode of The Twilight Zone.

Watch Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome said...

Will Smith's son made me want to blow up the earth. Only good part wast that I fell asleep in the middle so at least I got a good nap in.