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The Day the Earth Stood Still (0/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 92 minutes.

This answers the age-old question, how bad can a movie be? I thought that “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004) had seen disaster movies hit their nadir, but I hadn’t reckoned with director Scott Derickson and screenwriter David Scarpa. They have seen that turkey and raised it.

This is a remake of Robert Wise’s 1951 classic starring Michael Rennie. That film had a certain charm, despite its mid-20th Century technical details, which are laughable today. What this remake lacks in charm, it makes up for in stupidity.

Klaata (Keanu Reeves) is an alien come to earth to kill all the people to save the planet. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is a “renowned scientist,” who for some reason is called to an emergency meeting to try to save the planet from the alien invader and who, for some reason, is sympathetic to Klaata. This starts the movie off on a nice plateau of inconceivability. One nice thing about something as incomprehensible as Helen’s helping old Klaata avoid the authorities is that when the rest of the movie makes no sense whatsoever, it isn’t so jarring.

The filmmakers have made a drastic change from the original. Instead of Klaata being upset about the way people treat one another, which is what Wise’s film was about, now he’s ticked off at the way they are treating the planet. But, in keeping with Hollywood’s ignorance about what’s really going on in the world, the word “rainforest” is never mentioned.

Scarpa has really outdone himself with the scripting. At one point he has Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates), who is Secretary of Defense, say, “You know, I report to the President.”

This has one idiotic occurrence after another, just like “The Day After Tomorrow.” There’s a huge robot that can control electricity and just about everything else. But the good guys capture this robot and transport it to a huge building to try to drill it open. How did they capture and control something so powerful, you might ask? Don’t.

Then there is this huge swarming horde that annihilates everything in its path. We see it completely wipe out Giants Stadium in a matter of seconds. One second it’s there and the next second there’s nothing. But Klaata and Helen are trying to get away from it. What do they do? They run into an underpass, like a little tunnel under a street. Hey, the swarm can’t get to them! Showing his extra-human super intelligence, Klaata opines, “We aren’t going to be able to avoid it for long.” Let’s see, it can wipe out a huge sports stadium in two seconds, but it can’t get into a little tunnel under a street. Hmmmm.

Reeves is perfectly cast for Scarpa’s script because he only has to say short sentences composed of words that rarely exceed one syllable. If ever a script was written for one actor, Scarpa had to have Reeves in mind when he was writing this.

This is yet another remake that shouldn’t have been.

December 13, 2008