“The Day the Earth Stood Still” | Movie Review

Grade (C-)

A remake of the 1951 classic that failed to entertain with a massive over-use of Hollywood gloss that does not deliver the wanted impact.


Synopsis

The populations existence is threatened when an alien in the form of a human, and another in the form of a massive steel robot, invade the Earth not to destroy it, but to protect it from the human races destructive impact on its natural resources.

The Acting

Keanu Reeves’ performance virtually felt like a stoned version of Neo from “The Matrix”. While he did feel like a robotic, emotionless alien in his portrayal, the fact it was oddly similar many of his other performances was a distraction. He did have a couple of enjoyable scenes such as one in the train station as he steps back with a sandwich and surveys how the humans interact with each other, but for the most part he brought no energy to the movie. Perhaps casting an actor with a track record for strong character acting for the role could have resulting in a stark delivery of an alien that could have captivated much more.

Jennifer Connelly was good and easily the strongest character to vest your interest in. You can feel for her position in the script and the struggles of her dynamic with Jaden Smith’s character. Even though Connelly brought a solid performance to a film that lacked them, she only had a couple of compelling moments due to some lifeless writing. Much of the screenplay in this film seemed too much like many other films and the stale dialogue failed to build any real tension.

Jaden Smith was simply annoying in this film, which I guess for the sake of his role, would be a success. He did manage to capture the mood of an ungrateful little kid, but in regards to a character having lost his father – the emotion he delivered felt forced too much of the time, with the premise used too much to account for his ridiculous decision making throughout the story-line. The rest of the cast were all passable but very under developed and wasted for the most part. John Cleese and Kathy Bates could have added some emotional impact to this film with a dramatic premise but neither was given any dialogue thought-provoking enough to do so.

The Story

When doing a remake the access to source material is clearly plentiful, which is why it baffles me how so many of them fail to not only live up to the originals, but cannot even manage to do the originals justice, to show the plot can still be used in current day cinema. The first-act started out decent enough and did pull my interest in quickly. Soon however the pace of the film begins to slow when it should be picking up in flow.

After the film started out strong it seemed to linger around a recycled mix-mash of other films to carry the run-time till a bland climax can be given under a heavy layer of digital effects. As the story progresses it does little to pull you in and seemed like an odd road-trip film. You can see where this one is going and it is not due to it being a remake of an already released story. It is because you can already see what this film will give you, and exactly how it will give it to you with the clear intentions of being a special-effects driven piece with a cut-and-paste story.

Film-making

There were some moments of solid camera-work in this film such as when the spheres begin to arrive on earth and in particular Central Park. There were some wide sweeping shots to show the magnitude of what was happening, added with a robust score do a great job of building some tension and suspense for what is about to happen.

There were also some nice uses of the slow-motion technique that added subtle style to a couple shots with Reeves. However they did feel out of place when you look back on the film as a whole. I also really liked the visual delivery of the massive robot that is familiar from the original. I enjoyed how the rotating camera shot and lighting gave him a truly ominous feel, it was just unfortunate the story couldn’t make the most of this massive presence.

While there were some good aspects to the film-work there were also some not so good moments. The entire climax felt like a gloss over of lazy special-effects. Now maybe I have seen too many films and have unreasonable expectations. But this ending and all the digital layering that was clearly there to provide a visually spectacular send off to this film was not worth the lack of suspenseful acting. Well given the detail of this screenplay you wouldn’t have gotten that either.

Overall Experience

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was not a horrible movie but it certainly was not a good one. It was moderately entertaining at best. Even when you have source material to work with when doing a remake you can still convey inspiration in your film and this one simply did not. This felt like any other science-fiction catastrophe movie with the theme changed to fit the idea of the original.

The story failed to captivate my attention and with a cast of flat performances due to lack of time spent on building characters you can actually care about enough to see how they will finish the film. This one built some interest early then completely leveled out to a rather boring film with no ambition taken into continuing the legend of the original classic.


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