The Day the Earth Stood Still (PG-13)

Review Date: December 12th, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a totally uninvolving, completely unnecessary remake -- an idea that should have just stayed in the vault.


While the original 1950s sci-fi cult classic pointed to the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war in a timely manner, this The Day the Earth Stood Still is just a rehash. Do we really need Keanu Reeves to tell us how we've messed up the planet? In any case, he plays Klaatu, an alien being inside a human body who comes to Earth in a giant sphere to "talk" to our world leaders about our destructive behavior. In fact, he's the deciding factor on whether to destroy the human race in order to preserve Earth OR give us another chance. Of course, no one is going to let Klaatu speak to the U.N., which leaves the alien no other choice. Until, that is, he joins up with a pretty scientist (Jennifer Connelly) and her stepson (Jaden Smith) and sees just exactly how warm and fuzzy humans can be. Oy. It might be too late, though, since Klaatu's giant robot friend ("Gort" in the original) is already gearing up for his mission to kill and destroy.


At least casting Keanu Reeves was a smart move. Klaatu's lack of emotion and few words is right up the actor's alley; he makes it look soooo easy. Connelly, on the other hand, is making the same mistake she did when she starred in Hulk -- playing a brilliant scientist of some kind who is inevitably wasted onscreen. Jaden Smith is kind of an impertinent little snot through most of the movie, who wants Klaatu dead but suddenly changes his mind just at the right moment. And then there's Kathy Bates, as the Secretary of Defense, who stonewalls Klaatu's request to meet the world leaders. She nearly ruins the whole thing!


It's not that The Day the Earth Stood Still is a poorly made film. Director Scott Derrickson sets the right tone and aptly applies the state-of-the-art special effects when it's needed -- especially when the robot starts to work his particular destructive mojo by unleashing millions of tiny, mechanical bugs who eat through everything. The main problem with this remake is bad timing. The original was creepy and quiet and menacing with its alien takeover theme in a way moviegoers had never experienced in 1951; it hit a chord, which has carried it through its cult status. But to redo it now, when we've seen the same kind of movie done in so many better ways, doesn't make any sense. In trying to keep to the original's spirit, this Day comes off as derivative, unimaginative and tedious. Should have left it alone, folks.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.