Some films just shouldn’t get away unscathed. Thus, a full item-attack on “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2.0), now hitting DVD via our friends at Twentieth Century Fox.
Once again (Only this time without sunglasses, a long coat, and an armory cabinet that opens in slow-motion), Keanu Reeves tackles the Sci Fi genre…. pity he chose his return to space n’ monsters to be a languid remake of Robert Wise’s 1951 classic.
Captain Bonehead plays Klaatu, an alien whose taken on human form and visits Earth – as you do; if only because we have Slurpies and Pearl Jam. Klaatu brings a giant armed robot called GORT with him – think of GORT as the Chewbacca to Klaatu’s Han-Solo; unrestrainable, bigger, and badder than his master – and together they plan on destroying the people of Earth. Why? Apparently we’re ruining our own planet in our anti-environmentally-friendly ways, so they’re thinking of it as more of a favour than anything.
Hellbent on thwarting the plan is a scientist that ”befriends” Klaatu, Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly). Poor Connelly, always the nerdy scientist / professor chasing emotionally challenged men.
Dr. Benson brings her step son (father is deceased) with her on the adventure. Jacob Benson is played by Jaden Smith, Will and Jada’s son, who shows a lot of potential in his acting abilities through this role – yes, that was a compliment; probably the only one I’ll be giving. Dr. Benson and Jacob bond with Klaatu and try to stop Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (played by a convincingly nasty Kathy Bates) from harming him.
Oh, you wanna know more? It could hurt?
Well, a sphere hovers over the Earth as scientists run experiments on GORT and Klaatu. Dr. Benson helps Klaatu escape and learns of his plan to eradicate humans in an attempt to spare Earth from further damage. Klaatu speaks with Mr. Wu (James Hong) a fellow alien in a human form that has lived on Earth for years. Although Mr. Wu agrees that humans are destructive, he also has seen the better side of human nature, something that he cannot explain to Klaatu.
With his mind made up, Klaatu starts the process of ending human life by signaling GORT to change shape. GORT becomes a mass of insects, known as nanites, that can destroy machinery and infect humans. Dr. Benson and Jacob become infected and Klaatu has a change of heart, absorbing their infection into his body. He stops GORT by going through the nanites and touching the sphere, stopping the destruction he set in motion by destroying GORT. Humans are spared, but their technology has been immobilized. Klaatu heads back to where he came from. (how many times did I say nanites in that paragraph!?)
Look, the film has a good environmental message, I suppose, but it fails to deliver a story with solid character arcs and a story that makes sense. It’s a all over the place and there is not a solid plot to anchor the story’s moral in this version. Connelly has done this character too many times in other films – she’s well on the road to being typecast. Reeves is believable as Klaatu, if only because he has the acting range of a stiff droid.
Bonus materials on the DVD include deleted scenes, making of extras, a featurette on extraterrestrial life, a featurette on the environment, commentary from writer David Scarpa, stills and a theatrical trailer. A fun feature on the DVD showcases artwork submitted to a contest on the film’s website. Contestants submitted their GORT artwork and the winners have their art displayed in the bonus materials on the DVD.
Rent the original.