MONKEY REVIEW: The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

December 13, 2008

thedaytheearthstoodstillScott Derrickson’s remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still scores some points initially for its first act, which generates some real unease, wonder and awe as the American government (represented by the Secretary of Defense, played by Kathy Bates) mobilizes key scientists and engineers (including Jennifer Connelly and John Hamm) and copious military might in preparation for a unknown object headed straight for Manhattan. The object turns out to be a spaceship carrying an alien emissary named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves, quite good in a role originated by Michael Rennie in the 1951 original), who claims to be “a friend to Earth,” though he means that more literally than his human counterparts seem to understand. The majority of the movie more or less picks up where the the original left off, with the human race threatened with extinction, though in the remake, they aren’t given a chance to mend their destructive ways. Instead, it’s up to Connelly to try to change Klaatu’s mind, which is an acceptable direction to go in, but it’s woefully underdeveloped. Though The Day The Earth Stood Still is an acceptable and mostly entertaining combination of science fiction and action, the subtlety and thoughtfulness of the original is almost completely pushed aside here, replaced by sometimes pointless action sequences, most involving Gort, Klaatu’s robot guardian. It’s indicative of the “bigger is better” approach of the remake that Gort is now 28 feet tall and gets to destroy way more stuff this time out. This version in no way dishonors the original, but it does aim somewhat lower and is the worse for it.

MONKEY RATING: THREE MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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