Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I’ll start this post with an apology. I’m afraid that it has been a few weeks since I saw this and it has taken me so long to get round to reviewing it that I can’t really remember much about the film. Probably something to do with it being so lame. So, at the risk of sounding like one of those YouTube videos where someone tells the Star Wars story even though they’ve never seen it; I’ll try and make up remember what happened in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Keanu Reeves is camping in Antarctica with a big beard (for its delightful company you realise), when he discovers a big weird sphere buried in a wall of ice. He touches it and falls unconscious. When he comes around (still lying on the ice, not dead of exposure), the sphere is gone. An enormous version of this sphere then lands in Central Park, and an alien emerges: It’s Keanu! Did the aliens copy Keanu when he touched the sphere? Was he an alien already (might explain a lot, though he wasn’t on the bank of screens in the MIB headquarters)? No idea!

Jennifer Connelly is a scientist and works in some government lab or something (Kathy Bates is her boss?). She has a son who misses his dead dad something rotten, and takes his emotional frustration out on Connelly, (actually his Step-Mum). Somehow she gets to meet Alien Keanu as he leaves his sphere in Central Park, and takes him back to the lab. Turns out that Alien Keanu is here to, well, I was going to say warn the world that it’s about to be destroyed (because we’re all so violent); but I’m sure he says the process is already underway. He’s not here to save us either, so what is he here for? The world will be destroyed by some insect things that will eat through anything in seconds; trucks; baseball stadiums; tanks; people; oh, except for the bridge that Keanu, Jennifer and son hide under at the end of the film. Clearly a magic indestructible bridge. These insects emerge from a big robot with a big zappy-eye-type-thing that will destroy stuff if anything behaves violently towards it. This robot is alien Keanu's guard, but remains in Central Park, guarding the sphere.

Erm, anyway, Keanu wants to speak to the world’s leaders to give them his message (that we’re too violent and we’re all going to die). However, he’s not convincing (*bites tongue*), and so he resorts to escaping from the labs he’s being held in. He manages to track down another alien who has been living on Earth for many years; he has made his life here and is happy to die with all of the humans. Jennifer Connelly and son track Keanu down . Connelly wants to try and convince alien Keanu that the Earth is worth saving. Keanu isn't convinced. The kid believes the TV reports that say alien Keanu is an escaped terrorist and so rats him out to the authorities.

They all somehow escape the authorities again (there may have been some exploding helicopters at this point), Connelly and son arrive at dead husband/fathers grave and have a real moment together saying how much they both miss him. Alien Keanu witnesses this moment of tenderness and, based on this unconvincing performance, decides perhaps that humans are worth saving after all. There’s some running around, hiding under the aforementioned indestructible bridge, before Keanu makes his way back to the sphere in Central Park and touches it before being devoured by the bugs that can eat a stadium in seconds. Earth is saved, though is slightly knackered.

Well, I’ve just read a synopsis on IMDB, and mine’s not that far off! Though I did forget about spheres all over the world that take samples of other species to save them from destruction in a Noah’s Ark kind of way. I’ve not seen the 1951 version, though it’s probably better; it doesn’t have Keanu Reeves or Jennifer Connelly in it for a start. Some rapid research shows that 2008 scores 21% on Rotten Tomatoes, 1951 scores 94%; 2008 on IMDB gets 5.5 out of 10, 1951 scores 8.

This version probably leans too heavily on the special effects; yes the big robot looks cool, and yes it’s impressive the way the bugs eat a stadium very fast (I guess the reason I’ve mentioned that about 3 times is because it probably took up a good chunk of the budget, looked good, and so stuck in my head). However, the cast let it down. Keanu is his usual distant self. He was perfect in The Matrix because his character has only just “woken up” and so doesn’t initially understand what is happening to him; and Keanu’s style of acting is perfect for that. That should also work for an alien perhaps, but his character here should be in total control (of the fate of the world no less), but just seems a bit bored (actually perhaps fair enough for an alien to be a bit bored of Earth). Jennifer Connelly just isn’t charismatic enough to carry off the main human role, Kathy Bates is underused as is John Cleese, but then that’s probably their point in the film.


Right, I’m jabbering now because I can’t really remember. Maybe Reeves and Connelly were both fantastic and gave the performances of their careers, and I just plain didn’t like the film. But I don’t think I’m alone. I feel that I should put the 1951 version on my LoveFilm list to really compare. Anyone out there have experience of both versions?

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