THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)
I read no good reviews for the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, yet I always intended to see it anyway. Critical opinion is rarely a determinant of my viewing habits, and I generally like movies that others find ridiculous and a waste of time. In the case of this remake, I’m sad to say the reviewers were right.
The film is not entirely awful, actually. For the first hour I was fully engaged and intrigued and even entertained by the story and Keanu Reeves’s performance. I love that he knows his level of talent and takes the roles that showcase that best. Reeves was ideal as Klaatu, using his non-emotive style to portray a newly-human being adjusting to a foreign life. He did a fine job with no over-the-top posturing or delusions of grandeur. It was exactly what you would expect from Keanu Reeves, and I enjoyed the performance in its entirety. What causes the movie to fail is actually the film’s own posturing. As you might expect, the premise for a movie about earth’s destruction by an alien race leaves the door wide open for soapbox messages about environmental activism and how wretched and destructive is the human race. Once I realized this was the film’s justification for humanity’s total annihilation, I knew the “message” would be thrown at me again and again. Unfortunately, that takes up the entire final hour of the film.
As the movie set up the plot, I really did have high hopes for its success. And I absolutely loved the new incarnation of GORT. But the preachy screenplay and the lack of further substance brought the film to a screeching halt for me. I finally just wanted the film to end. That ending, sadly, left me with much the same feeling as The Happening — that kind of “That’s it? This is how it ends?” moment that never satisfies. So much more could have been done with this film, so much more could have been improved upon from the original. After this lame effort, though, I doubt anyone will want to tackle the story again.