This was never going to be an easy re-make, the classic much loved and respected 1951 Robert Wise film still ranks as one of the best science fiction offerings even today.
It could be argued that a reboot attempt was overdue, and I held out some hope as Keanu Reeves is a good actor and has some grounding in the science fiction arena (nobody would complain about the Matrix being a good film and his solid acting in that) Reeve should be a perfect match for the emotionless Klaatu main character, but sadly there are quite a few problems with the film that go beyond cast members.
The storyline is broadly based on the 50's film, some diversion (mostly for the bad) but pacing is a problem, and the script is frequently rather bland and predictable. Worse, leaving aside the not to get attached to Klaatu, you can never connect or feel anything for the other cast members, nor really care much about them. For some reason they also decided to throw John Cleese in as Professor Karl Barnhardt, whilst I have a lot of time for Cleese (in comedy roles) his presence here is poorly judged.
SFX wise, despite the big budget it not quite up to the level you would expect even if they unloaded $80 million on the film it's far from bad but lacks that wow factor the deep wallet suggests.
It would be fair to say the 50's version had it's flaws the familiar cheesy soundtrack (but it worked so well) even the older GORT despite the obvious costume was more memorable, the script was good, the story had real meaning and was well structured. This newer version lacks just about every aspect that made that film work. A real shame, I struggled to sit through this version and it's sadly one that won't be getting viewed very often. A film can work even with flaws, but this is a film without any soul, and lacking in character or connection for the viewer.
A real let down, pass this one and head straight for the older version
I approached this film with an open mind and having watched Darren Aronofky's Noah the previous day was struck with the almost identical theme of man ruining Earth and having to be eradicated from the planet. The collecting of living species into various spheres present around the planet is very biblical as is the judgement of mankind's behaviour, in this case by Keanu Reeves' Klaatu, a representative of a group of alien races concerned at the destructive nature of mankind. In the original 1951 film the conceit was the need to stop the potentially aggressive military expansion of the human race whereas in this film it is the need to ensure the survival of Earth, a unique planet in danger of being destroyed by man. The first half an hour of the film was promising - the arrival of the alien spaceship, the expected hostility and suspicion about the alien being, the human race seen through an alien's eyes (the highlight of the film for me was the conversation between Klaatu and another alien observer who had been present on earth in human form for 70 years). However, as the film progressed the screenplay seemed dull and uninspiring, relying too much on special effects as poor characterisation and plotting resulted in lamentable acting. A thoroughly disappointing film which I will not be watching again.
The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of those cases of an okay remake of a much better film: not terrible, but lacking the power and humanity of the much-loved classic it is attempting to update. Not that it isn't an interesting attempt to use the same plot to address a new generation's version of the eternal fear of the sky falling on their heads, changing the threat of nuclear war to the destruction of the environment. The opening isn't altogether convincing but it does take a relatively realistic approach to how the government would react if an alien object were discovered to be on collision course with the Earth, keeping the public in the dark and shanghaiing the top scientists in their field to assess the aftermath. But the collision doesn't happen and, after much scene-setting and attempts at creating an atmosphere of mystery and unease, Jennifer Connelly's scientist finds herself on the run with Keanu Reeves' alien who's here to save the Earth - which isn't necessarily a good thing for us...
It's not particularly badly written or directed, but it just lacks that spark to make it anything special. Where the original tapped into 50s paranoia, this never manages to hook onto a 21st century one effectively enough to add to the stakes for the audience and, more crucially, lacks a real human heart to make us care about the fate of its central characters let alone humanity as a whole (if anything Jaden Smith is such an odious kill-crazy tyke you'll be giving Armageddon serious consideration). Which is a pity, because there are some genuinely good ideas here and a couple of interesting moments that hint at a better film, not least James Hong's scene as a melancholy long-term visitor or an underdeveloped sequence with John Cleese's biologist. The spectacle at the end is mildly enjoyable popcorn entertainment, this time adding destruction and a high body count to the original's mere demonstration of power and the threat of global destruction being put in motion rather than a big speech outlining the film's view of how to set the world to rights (this time round Klaatu instantly abandons any thoughts of addressing the world's leaders when stonewalled by Kathy Bates' official). Unfortunately that also briefly highlights perhaps the film's biggest disappointment, the giant robot Gort. This time round it may be an all-CGI creation rather than a man in a suit, but it simply looks like a well-toned guy in a leotard and balaclava, and rather than simply disarming his enemies, he kills them. While his powers are more interesting this time round, once again the final twist from the original novella Farewell to the Master is missing - that it is the robot rather than the humanoid who is the master - although the film does at least confront the original film's double-standard in putting an end to the nuclear arms race by having an even bigger superpower threaten destruction.
Ultimately it's one of those well-intentioned films that's not particularly bad, not particularly good. It holds your attention for its running time without ever really moving you or drawing you in, with just enough of interest to repay the effort but not quite enough to have a fraction of the impact or sense of wonder of the original. Nor is the extras package especially memorable: audio commentary by the screenwriter, 3 brief redundant deleted scenes, stills gallery and some self-congratulatory featurettes, with the Blu-ray adding a picture-in-picture video commentary and storyboards and theatrical trailer.
on 6 August 2010
I was wondering quite why I felt different about this film than its predecessor, and then I saw a review on here that mentioned the key word, with which I fully agree. It's more cynical. And bleak emotionally.
While I found the original's Klaatu fascinating and engaging, somehow Keanu's good effort here doesn't work well for me, his alien emissary not quite getting the feeling across to me. Jeniffer Connelly is great as the emotional core of the film, and the new Gort robot is a very nice re-imagining of an old classic. The shiny spheres that pop up everywhere which can be seen in the advert are an extremely nice special effect, and the air of threat is believable to a degree. Somehow the tension isn't built up properly though. There's a cynical air to it all, and a degree of apathy from everybody but Connelly. While I did like the original a lot, I by no means lionise it, so I was perfectly happy to see a newer, better done model come along. However, this is the first modern remake I've seen in the last few years where I've actually thought "I wish they'd left it alone."
If you haven't seen the original, this makes for well designed, pretty well written and acted sci-fi drama, which is reasonably faithful to the same story. The effects are great and the drama is good. It's worth watching.
If you have seen the original, you may feel this came off somewhat flat, like I did, and wish they'd poured in a bit more energy. Or even, dare I say it, changed it a bit more.
on 20 January 2014
The original fifties movie The Day The Earth Stood Still was a riveting, gripping and thrilling piece of moviedrama that for all its future primitive limitations actually had a well written script you could wholly embrace with characters who were warm and enduring. This however, the noughties remake is a dull overproduced piece of hollywood garbage at its worst! I'm sorry for such a harsh appraisal, in that i don't want to spoil it for the kids of today that like sci fi, my advise to you would be trash this rubbish (sorry i'm off again!) and get the original, its a great, possibly the best saucer movie ever made. This remake is difficult to understand as the plot is all over the place and the characters, shady at best. Even the robot that was so menacing in the original comes across as nothing more than an impotent doodle of computer animated graphics that bear no attachment to the scenery or set whatsoever. In fact its like gaming mine craft or something which is quite frankly where the old movies win over todays 'all the gear, no idea' productions. What they did with the most basic technology was mind blowing, they made you really believe it. Today, sadly they leave me bored, cgi overkill has destroyed the imagination and caters to a lazy audience where style over substance takes centre stage. Pass.
on 5 June 2009
Ok. This is a difficult one. I love the original film. Yes it's black and white and a bit dated and the acting is a bit wooden, but the direction by the great Robert Wise and the story is a classic, and then there's GORT, one of the best robot creations in sci-fi and the classic line "Klaatu barada nikto".
So was it ripe for a remake? In my opinion "yes" as the production values of today could work wonders for the storyline. If they had `remade' it that is! And that is where it goes wrong. This isn't a bad film, it's actually better than I expected after some of the negative reviews I'd read, but it could have been a `Great' film, a modern classic, but it missed the core of the story by a mile and then some!
In the original Michael Rennie is Klaatu who comes to Earth to warn us of impending doom and is shot at by typically overzealous American soldiers. In this version Keanu Reeves is Klaatu but now he's a DNA clone of someone who was killed in the 1920s on a mountain? Go figure. Whoever came up with that concept I don't really know but they must have been on drugs!
Then we have the spaceship. A huge `flying saucer' in the original with an interior, controls, knobs, switches, the whole kit and caboodle, but a huge giant glowing sphere in this version which appears to have no controls, no interior, nothing which tells you it can travel through space or navigate or land anywhere!
But the biggest travesty is GORT. He looks great. Much taller than in the original, a truly GIANT robot. But what does he do in this? Hardly anything is the answer. And when he does decide to kick some human butt he suddenly turns into a swarm of metal insects which proceed to devour everything in its wake. Why? I mean, wouldn't it have been more impressive and a damn sight more exciting and cinematic to have watched a GIANT robot come to life and start blasting everything the army could send at it? The character of GORT was totally wasted, and yet that is one of the most memorable things and images from the original movie, so where is the logic in throwing that away?
It's not all bad though. Keanu Reeves is very good, but I've always considered him to be an underrated actor anyway. He's different and suits this part perfectly. Jennifer Connelly is also good as the woman scientist who befriends and tries to help him. The less said about the kid though the better.
So in summary a good film which could have been a great one if the Director had studied the original more closely and made it into more of a homage than the story he decided to produce.
When the original version was released in the early fifties i suspect it carried an 'A' Certificate, which today would be a '15' maybe, being released now as ( a 'PG' )
This version ? i bought it because of what should have been a 'special effects' spectacle, truth is it could have been so much better in that department .
'Keanu Reeves' does what 'Keanu Reeves' does....walks...talks ?
The story line is about an Alien intent on saving the planet from the human race, eliminating...yes...the human race...who ( sounds familiar ) seem hell bent on destroying a great living space for short term gains.
Can the 'Alien' be convinced that rather than destroy us, we could actually change...and do the right thing ( in reality...probably not )
The film lacked the tension element that movies like this really need, probably not enough excitement for most ?
worth a watch at least..... to buy ?............well i did obviously...but I'd have to say 'rent' it on 'Blu-ray' first, then make a choice of to buy or not to buy.
on 20 August 2011
I had high hopes for this remake, but having stupidly failed to make the connection between the intro set on a mountain in India and goodness knows how long spent watching CGI created by interns and respected actors committing career suicide, i've decided to donate this one to charity. And I apologise to the charity concerned in advance.
I agree with the other one-star commenters: go get the original, and give this turkey a wide berth!
on 27 March 2012
The Good - The effects of this are far better than the original which look weak now. I think Kathy Bates, Jennifer Connelly and Keanu Reeves do well with the elements that the script gives them (perverse I know).
The Automaton is very impressive,
The Bad the script. Some of the emphasis shift to Starman mythos takes too much away for me - Ultimately - I did not feel the threat was real nor the reason for it well enough explained. 2 out of 5.
If you were to see this film without knowing that it is a remake of an earlier production you would wonder why its title is what it is. It is only right at the end that lights start going out, which presumably indicates other impending power outages, and this feature has to compete for our notice with the death of the insects in a swarm that was hard at work annihilating the human race until just a moment earlier. You might also have been wondering why so much prominence is given to the robot, which is really superfluous to the plot. Allegedly it is there to protect the alien Klaatu, but he is perfectly able to look after himself. The robot also has something (not very clear what) to do with the emergence of the deadly insect-swarm, but this only seems to be so as to give the robot something to do. Up to then interaction with terrestrial life-forms had been the province of some spacegoing alien crystal globes, and it is not a very convincing job for a robot.
The robot is there because the original 1951 film by the same name had a similar robot, not so impressive-looking as this one it must be admitted. This film is also called what it is called because in the 1951 version the story really was about the earth being brought to a standstill by Klaatu and Gort the robot, as a friendly warning. In general it's reasonable to say that this production is strong on cinema effects but lamentable in the plot department. This is a pity, because it starts quite well, although the emissaries from the DoD ham it up a bit. The terrestrial powers-that-be are represented by the Secretary of Defense, speaking on behalf of a POTUS in hiding, who makes one solitary phone call audible only to the Secretary of Defense. At this rate why is she the Sec of Defense at all, I suppose? She might as well have been the President for the purposes of the story. Also rather predictable is the all-American focus of the action, even more than in Independence Day. Having come from the depths of intergalactic space the aliens are unerring in picking Central Park for their main landing-spot, and it is a pity that the film did not make more of Klaatu's wish to speak with the whole human race, not just with one nation. After all, having made landfall in Central Park he did not have far to go to the UN, but perhaps the votaries of Mr Cheney might not have liked such implications.
The biggest weakness (of many) in the plot is the way Klaatu is swayed this way and that by attempts to deflect him from the mission he came with, namely to cleanse the earth of humanity unless it cleaned up its act, alternating with relapses into his original idea. The level of the arguments could hardly be described as worthy of the ostensible cosmic scope of the action, and what makes up his mind is the revelation by a professor who demonstrates awesome brainpower to the gullible by sharing a blackboard full of equations with Klaatu, and then blinds us with the perception that humanity only changes its ways when the crisis of its old habits and practices is upon it. That does the trick, apparently. The response that even if humanity does change its ways in extremis it will revert to its old mores once the crisis is over; and the other response that it will more likely let the crisis happen and then muddle through as best it can, seem to be too hard for anyone to suggest. The choice of the actor to put this across must have been difficult, and the lot fell upon -- John Cleese! If I had been looking for this JC to offer some hope that there might be something redeemable about humankind after all, I think I would have found more comfort in The Ministry of Silly Walks.
The acting in general is undistinguished, with the Sec of Defense doing the best job. To have the `heroine' as a widowed but beautiful young American supporting her late soldier/hero husband's mixed-race child while simultaneously being the lynchpin of the hotshot-scientific dealings with Klaatu is just one dose of ecumenical slop too far in my own opinion. However the real let-down is Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. Considering how efficiently Klaatu adapted to a human body, you might have thought that he could have managed more than one facial expression, or at least a better one than this one. For all these gripes I found this show watchable once, and largely because of the cinematic effects that are so dependable these days (perhaps another sign of hope for our human race). If you decide to give it a go, remember that another, much better, film once went by the same name. Come to that it still does, and I would bet on its having a longer posterity.