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The Day The Earth Stood Still

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil
The Day The Earth Stood Still –   Audiences Won’t Be Moved By This Horrendously Disappointing Remake

Let me preface by emphatically stating Robert Wise’s classic 1951 science fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, is one of my favorite movies of all time, as I am sure most film lovers would agree. When word first got out that a remake was going to be made I was curious as to how it would stand up to the original movie which starred British actor Michael Rennie, and Patricia Neal.  Sadly, after viewing the film I was disappointed at how badly it fails on almost every level.  Even seeing it in IMAX did not make the experience less painful to endure.

I question why was there was a need to rework something that didn’t require a fix. Unless the filmmakers could come up with an updated, new and improved version, they should have left well enough alone.  But, noooo!  They had to mess with a good thing and make several changes, none for the better. Basically what we get is a ripped off title, a dumb downed, re-imagined version with huge plot holes that bears little resemblance to the original. It only goes to prove classic films should never be remade, especially when it turns out to be as shamefully dreadful as this one.

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In the original film an alien visitor named Klaatu accompanied by his seven foot robot protector Gort (then portrayed by a tall actor in a silver suit) arrives on Earth to warn humans that we better find a way to make peace with each other, or else. Instead of a cautionary tale about the terror of potential nuclear annihilation in the atomic age, in the new version the issue at stake is the ecology, as if the bomb, which can wipe us out in a flash, is no longer a very clear and present danger.

Klaatu (Keanu Reeves, in more than usual deadpan mode) as an emissary for a league of extraterrestrial civilizations has been sent to warn us that as a result of our destructive human behavior we are on the brink of destroying the planet. That’s right, the planet itself and not its human inhabitants are of utmost importance, which is totally opposite to the original movie where he came to save mankind. This time around Klaatu has come to wipe out mankind before we do any further damage to Mother Earth.

Unlike the spaceship from the original movie, Klaatu and his gigantic robot protector Gort (now completely computer generated) emerge from a giant glowing orb after landing in New York’s Central Park.  Although a group of scientists including an astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) has been gathered together to check out the alien arrival, as soon as he is visible a shot rings out and the injured being is immediately whisked off to a military lab for evaluation and questioning. But first he has to shed his gel like covering and be reborn into a human body, thanks to some DNA taken from a man during an alien’s visit to this planet in 1928. Of course Klaatu’s request to meet with world leaders is denied thanks to Secretary of Defense, Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates, channeling a secure Hilary Clinton-like stance) who fears his intentions are malevolent. With the assist of Helen, who somehow feels the need to help him, Klaatu escapes his captors.  While on the run with Helen and her young stepson he winds up learning about the human race from several interactions and encounters with the species.

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And that is where things don’t jive.  After being shot and kept a prisoner by the military, witnessing a man being mugged at a train station, and having Helen’s annoying and obnoxious step son Jacob (Jaden Smith) say that the alien should be killed,  Klaatu suddenly has an epiphany about saving the human race. You’d think all the despicable human behavior Klaatu experiences would only cement his original feelings.  Suspending disbelief does have its place, but in this scenario it goes way overboard.

Worst of all, the three alien words, Klaatu Barada Nikto, so relevant to the original film’s plot, is never uttered in the remake. Why writer David Scarpa chose to delete a piece of dialogue that caught on as a catch phrase and became a part of pop culture, is inexcusable and beyond reason.  What was he thinking? I suppose he is trying to impress us with some added Christian symbolism in relation to powers of healing, redemption, sacrifice, and a reference to Noah’s Ark. It doesn’t work.

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I didn’t care about the characters and found myself squirming in my seat disturbed and angry at how the creative team took an engrossing story and bastardized it. With no investment in the characters, so-so special effects, minimal action and an ending that falls flat, I can’t help but think how this remake is an example of destructive behavior. Rather than leaving with a strong “green” message, for all it is worth, I just saw red.

Feedback is welcome.

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