17 March 2013

Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
  • Director: Scott Derrickson
  • Based on Book: no
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jon Hamm
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Keanu Reeves – many. Here are a few favorites: Much Ado About Nothing, Speed, Feeling Minnesota, Matrix (and the other two, though less so), A Scanner Darkly, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, My Own Private Idaho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
    • Jennifer Connelly: A Beautiful Mind, Creation, He’s Just Not That Into You, House of Sand and Fog, Pollack, Requiem for a Dream
    • Kathy Bates: Six Feet Under, About Schmidt, Titanic, Dolores Claiborne, Fried Green Tomatoes, Misery
    • John Cleese – Monty Python, Harry Potter, A Fish Called Wanda, Clockwise, The Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life, Fawlty Towers, The Taming of a Shrew
    • Jon Hamm: Madmen
  • Why bought: included in Doomsday box with The Day after Tomorrow. I probably would have bought it anyway eventually.
  • Seen: Twice. First time in 2008. Now December 7, 2012

The original from 1951 with Michael Rennie is generally considered a much better film and I might agree if I watched both one after the other.  It’s been several years since I saw the ’51 version and I remember liking it very much but I think the 2008 version is better than its reputation.  It is a serious attempt to update the story.  Of course the Earth is in no way free from the threat of nuclear distruction either through war or power plant/waste storage disasters but the threat to the environment through overconsumption is dire enough to warrant a visit from an extraterrestrial rescue mission.  I hope they come soon!
The film is bogged down by platitudes and simplifications – when Klaatu sees Dr. Benson grieving with her beloved stepson by the father’s grave he realizes humans aren’t all bad and he decided to help them – a little too pathetic and don’t aliens love each other too?! – but good acting carries the film. Keanu Reeves is always Keanu Reeves and fits the role of the super intelligent detached ambassador very well. Jennifer Connelly is always good and it’s always a pleasure to see John Cleese and Kathy Bates. Since seeing it the first time I’ve made Jon Hamm’s acquaintance through Mad Men and had a hard time separating him from Don Draper but it was fun to see him in a different role.
Generally it’s a well done film with believable special effects.  It’s exciting from start to finish.  And I like the kid.

3* of 5.

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