Last night since I love the cinema so much and as a special early treat for my birthday we ventured to the cinema to watch the new The Day The Earth Stood Still movie.
It's another remake or re-imagining of a classic sci-fi film, starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, and unfortunately once again I think they should have left well enough alone.
The film starts off well enough with a fast paced intro and tension surrounding the arrival of an alien vessel. Departing from the traditional saucer, the re-imagined spacecraft looks amazing, like a vast globe encasing rolling thunderstorms.
After the 'impact' of the craft in Manhattan and all life isn't wiped from the face of the Earth, just as Jennifer Connelly's scientist character is about to greet the alien visitor, when someone shoots it (stupid, aggressive humans).
Next thing you know a giant robot with a glowing red eye steps out of the roiling sphere and starts powering down all machinery and then disabling soldiers and scientists alike. Fortunately the shot alien visitor intervenes and halts the robot.
The alien is carted off to be poked and prodded and we discover that he's grown a human body (which suspiciously resembles the expressionless features of Keanu Reeves) from DNA acquired years ago and is named Klaatu. With the help of a friendly human scientist (Connelly), who doesn't agree with what the military plan to do with him, his sedation injection is switched and he escapes whilst being interrogated.
That's when the action slows to a crawl as the alien and the scientist drive around, with Connelly's step-son in the back seat (who must be candidate for one of the most annoying child characters ever) and we get a lot of talky scenes between an alien that has lived on Earth for over seventy years and a kindly old Nobel-Winning Professor that tries to reassure Keanu what a flawed and wonderful race us humans are.
Sadly the aliens feel that we are a cruel and violent people and need to be eradicated to save the Earth (there are he explains, only so many habitable worlds in the universe), so they put in motion a process to destroy all life on earth (after selecting several samples of Earth's indigenous species in spheres reminiscent of Noah's Ark).
In a mildly interesting twist, the big bad alien robot, who the Army name GORT (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology), appears to be comprised of silicon based insect-like nanites that can turn into a cloud of destruction that can annihilate anything in its path.
Once activated the swarm easily escapes the military bunker where it had been held and experimented upon and then the Army tries to destroy it with conventional guns and tanks (it's almost as if the filmmakers want to hit us over the head with how dumb and inherently destructive we are).
In the end Connelly needs to convince the alien visitor that it is worth saving human civilization regardless of their flaws and by spending time with her and her (ungrateful and totally unlikeable little) step-son, she ultimately convinces him to save humanity (think how easier it would have been to believe if the boy had actually been a sympathetic character).
Luckily the movie rushes by at only 104 minutes, so we don't have to endure any more of this disappointing remake, of what could have been a totally engrossing concept if it had been done right.
I give this movie two ** stars and ultimately think that all you need do is stick to watching the movie trailer to get a good Christmas blockbuster where this film is concerned.
I'm sorry for sounding so dismissive of this movie and maybe not giving it my usual thorough commentary, but it just doesn't merit my full attention, especially on my birthday when I have much more interesting things to be doing.
Champagne and cosmos await...