Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008

I've gone through the original short story and classic film, but what did we learn in 57 years? Not a lot.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) is a big, loud and boring remake.

In 1928 a man encounters a glowing sphere in the mountains of India. He touches it and passes out. When he awakens it's gone. Cut to 2008 and Dr. Helen Benson is giving a lecture about bacteria that survive hostile climates. She then goes home and fails at bonding with her stepson Jacob. She is then dragged away by the military for a conference involving an object approaching earth. When the object, a giant glowing orb, lands safely in Manhattan. As a being emerges, he is shot by a soldier and rushed to a military hospital.

This film does a decent job at paying homage to the original, but falls flat on being its own movie. As is to be expected, this is a huge special effects bonanza. The effects are good, but the story revolves more moving between set pieces than developing characters.

Our Heroes
Dr. Helen Benson is a leading scientist in exobiology and a single mother. She's altruistically good. She sees no evil in anyone and always follows her feelings. She's the only character who I really liked in the whole movie. Unfortunately, her scenes are fewer than I'd have liked and split with Klaatu, the Secretary of State and Jacob...

Klaatu is boring unfeeling bioweapon. The film clearly tries to make him grow over the course of the story, but using a bunch of manipulative scenes that can be seen coming from a mile away is not the way to do it. Klaatu seeing people crying is not character development nor is having a quickly talk with an old guy while listening to Bach. Also, turning one of the most relatable and human aliens in all of science fiction into an emotionless automaton was a stupid idea.

Professor Barnhardt saves the day... in one scene. Hooray for John Cleese!

Obnoxious Observer
Jacob Benson is a stereotypical child of the 2000s. He is also a stupid little shit who's a downright unlikeable drain on this movie. They attempt to salvage his character late in the movie, but it is too little too late.

Typical Foe
Humanity is bad because we destroy the environment and stuff! Oh and the military and government are stupid. So glad Hollywood could drain the complexity out of this movie. We also have a few military leaders and the Secretary of state to be 'evil' for us. Good thing none of them are developed at all so I don't have to care.

Military Atmosphere
If you enjoy lots of military complexes, nighttime forests, and shiny orbs then this is the movie for you! As I mentioned earlier it looks pretty good, but has the overproduced feel that has become a trademark of recent remakes.

In the End
An environmental message... I'm so glad these filmmakers knew exactly what to shove into this movie to really piss me off. Yes, I know we really need to change our ways, but a bloated Hollywood mess is never a good vehicle for it. Especially when it is shoved in because they were clearly out of ideas. Oh and G.O.R.T. is a mass of tiny bugs rather than an ominous figure. Also, I think they forgot to add a proper conclusion because the end certainly isn't satisfying.

This picture sums up the movie for me.
This story ends up less as a narrative and more as a collection of loosely related events. The idea of making Klaatu use biotech is cool, but everything else about his character failed. If they'd wanted to go this route, they should have made it about Helen and Jacob showing Klaatu humanity. Instead it's a bunch of dark shots of forests, military compounds, and explosions. Helen Benson is just about the only thing that this film got right. Sadly, she was sorely underutilized. Mostly, this movie was just boring. It has nothing interesting to offer or to set it apart from other sci-fi CGIfests.
4/10 (on its own) 2/10 (if compared to the original)

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