Day The Earth Stood Still -- 2008
you could just play Shadow of the Colossus
posted in slightly different form by Jamie Kelwick at his
own site -- www.the-usher.com.)
fascination with remaking old movies continues, but when
attempting to remake a true classic of the science fiction
genre then it better be good. Unfortunately this definitely
a remake of a 1950s science fiction B-Movie can surpass
the original. Just look at John Carpenter's remake The
Thing. But when we are talking about one of the truly
defining pieces of Sci-Fi,The Day the Earth Stood Still,
you have a really high standard to surpass.
Wise directed the original -- the man who would later go
onto helm other science fiction classics The Andromeda
Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture,
as well as other beloved pieces of movie history West
Side Story and The Sound of Music. The movie
was based on a story by Harry Bates and adapted by Edmund
H. North into a movie that was not only a fantastic piece
of science fiction but a statement on the political climate
of the world in the 1950s.
time when the Cold War was taking hold and the tensions
between the US and Russia were escalating out of control,
the story of an Alien coming to Earth to warn the human
race that if they continued on this destructive path they
would have to step in and remove them from the planet. It
wasn't until that alien, named Klaatu, spent time amongst
the humans that he realised that they could change and a
warning would be all they need to change their ways.
over fifty years later that premise is still relevant today
but instead of a warning about changing our warring ways,
it is our destroying of the planet's environment that has
gained the attention of the aliens. This time instead of
a huge flying saucer landing in Washington D.C. and the
brilliant Michael Rennie emerging from the ship to deliver
the warning, we have a huge glowing sphere landing in New
York's Central Park and Keanu Reeves emerging from it.
I can't pick out Canada on the globe...
the visual effects and the sheer scope of this landing have
been injected with all the visual effects muscle that Hollywood
can provide these days, it doesn't really have the same
impact. Yes the scene is the same and the military reaction
to this alien is again greeted by a retaliation by Klaatu's
protector, the huge robot GORT, but from then on this is
a slightly different movie.
when Klaatu leaves the 'care' of the US military, instead
of spending time amongst the people to help him realise
that the human race is one worth preserving, he spends his
time on the run with Dr. Helen Benson, one of the scientists
who examined him but then helped in his escape, played by
the always good Jennifer Connelly, and her adopted son.
this was meant to show the power of family and an understanding
of human grief, you, the audience are just left wondering
how Klaatu hasn't just destroyed the Earth after spending
five minutes of time with Jaden Smith's irritatingly whining
character, Jacob Benson. The character is the epitome of
reason why some people refuse to have children and if he
is supposed to represent what is good about the human race,
even with all his problems, then the Earth is doomed.
Keanu Reeves being completely wooden throughout (no change
there then), Connelly and Kathy Bates as Secretary of Defence
Regina Jackson trying their best, John Cleese representing
the 'clever' people of Earth and Jaden Smith being as irritating
as hell it could have been easy for the message of the film
to be lost amongst these awful characters and over-the-top
and slightly underwhelming visual effects. Fortunately it
agent said I'd do what now?
problem is as the movie builds to its conclusion, instead
of the impact and the message that the original had at the
end, this movie just ends with no reinforcement of the warning
that we are destroying the planet. While some might say
that this is assumed, it is more likely that some might
think that this was a victory for the American Government
and its military might as they have forced the sphere to
leave and the human race to be spared.
message will still get through however, as it is still one
of the best ever conceived in science fiction, but it you
really want to heed Klaatu's warning, then watch the 1951
original because this version has been very diluted.