Monday, December 15, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)


So I was in a mood to see a good sci-fi film, and I decided to see "The Day the Earth Stood Still" starring Keanu Reeves, and Jennifer Connelly. I am a fan of the 1951 film. Unfortunately after seeing the film I can't say that I'm a big fan of this one. Don't get me wrong I like the performances, and I even like what the writers did by updating it to to days subject matters. But with all the build up the film let's you down in the end. I actually thought there should be more. Sure the world has stopped, but why. The film explains a lot of the motivations of Reeves character, but in the end I don't buy it.

After being rebuked by the U.S. government Reeves character goes on a journey. In this journey he finds out that the human race is worth saving. There's an appearance of the character actor James Hong who I think is NEVER used well enough. In it Hong plays Mr. Wu another alien agent who had come to the earth over 70 years ago. I was actually more interested in his character then any other, and he is only in one scene in the film. Had the filmmakers decided to concentrate on his character I think this film would have benn a lot more interesting. But that's a personal opinion, but if you decide to see the film look for the scene.

Some critics have complained about Jaden Smith's performance. Smith is the son of Jaden and Will Smith, so maybe that's why the critics want to paint a bulls eye on him, but I didn't think he was that bad. He had heart, and I did well up with tears when he brought Reeves character to the cemetery where his father is buried. Maybe I'm just a big softy, but come on guys Smith's acting was fine. It's the writing that doesn't work.

Take for instance how Reeves' character (Klaatu) suddenly is convinced that the human race is worth saving. After visiting a Nobel prize awarded scientist (Professor Barnhardt)played by of all people John Cleese and listening to a recording of Bach Klaatu realizes that there is more to us humans then our destructive capabilities. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it. I think a good idea would have been going on a journey with the child (Jaden Smith) and viewing some of man's other traits, and then seeing man isn't the monster he usually is represented as. I mean wouldn't a super intelligent alien being need more then a recording of Bach to decide that the earth was worth saving. In the beginning of the movie Klaatu says that his species is much different then our own, and that we (mankind) would be scared of our difference. In other words the writers just took the easy way out. Maybe I'm asking for way too much, but please don't talk down to your audience. Have some respect. After all this is a science fiction movie, and we are capable of imagining other worlds and other species.

But this is is a mainstream movie with a BIG budget, so no experimenting please. Cut and dry and leave it at that. Maybe by doing so you create a Bigger film, and a longer one at that, and remember films need to be a certain length to fit in to a theaters schedule. Maybe I'm again nitpicking, but I thought "the Day The Earth Stood Still" could have been a much better film. I even liked Keanu Reeves acting as Klaatu. He plays the character with little emotion, but there is intelligence behind those eyes, and a longing to connect with his human hosts. Jennifer Connelly is cast well, and works here too.

In the end as I walked out of the theater I said"that's it?". Maybe leaving them wanting more is something, but here it's not a good thing. After all the build up of this film I was disappointed. There is some good material here, but not enough to be excited by it.

Also a note about the effects. I believe that even the helicopter effects were done via computer, and I noticed. Not a very good sign. I thought they looked a bit strange, and then thought that it may be a computer image. In fact a lot of this film is done via computer effects. A lot of the times I didn't have a problem with it, but on occasion I began to play the game guess the computer image. I guess it's normal in today's films to have it, but I lament the days of real effects work.

1 comment:

carri1004 said...

Does anyone know what the names of the Bach selections playing in this movie?