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The Day the Earth Stood Still
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483 out of 648 people found the following review useful:

Very disappointing

4/10
Author: toby007 from United States
12 December 2008

Why do these movies feel they need to include a bratty, spoiled, overbearing kid?? The ridiculous performance of Jaden Smith added annoyance to the empty script.

The movie starts off well enough, and then tries miserably to develop the characters and make us care for them. The Bates role is absurd; Cleese's role has virtually nothing to say this amazing encounter. The military point of view is typical; as if there's only one area where the military is useful (I would expect nothing less from "Hollywood").

There were some very interesting ideas (the sphere-like ship, the nanobots, the Gort acronym) and the effects were top notch, however Gort (the one thing the movie had going for it) was on screen for less then 10 minutes.

Keanu was perfectly cast and Connelly does a good job with what's given to her. All in all, another flop of a remake. This actually makes the War of the Worlds remake shine.

I saw this movie in IMAX - if you're going to see it, find an IMAX theater. Lastly, am I the only sick of seeing the same old New York back drop? I love New York City, but come on! Be original!

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389 out of 527 people found the following review useful:

Mildly entertains, but never reaches its potential.

6/10
Author: Jamie Ward from United Kingdom
10 December 2008

The epic science fiction blockbuster is slowly but surely becoming a dying form of cinematic entertainment. Not since the days of cold war paranoia and the initial splurge of CGI technology back in the nineties has the genre seen much love either from its core enthusiasts or those looking for something big but different. Yet there are numerous obvious reasons for its decline in demand, most of which are unavoidably apparent in this, the latest and arguably first of its kind for over a year now, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Based upon a movie from the genre's heyday, director Scott Derrickson's version lacks the same sense of awe, conviction and relevancy to our current social climate. Bombarded with underdeveloped themes, an incoherent plot and extremely rough characterisation, the movie suffers not just from a lack of significance in its arrival, but also in its implementation. Most disappointing of all however is that in spite of the many technical flaws present, the biggest let down is that the movie simply doesn't convince; the effects are impressive and the story can be gripping through its thick layer of foreboding atmosphere from time to time, but an overall lack of substance hurts the film's ability to truly draw you in and take off. It's a routinely enjoyable experience sure enough, but an over reliance on this safe-play structure stops the feature from excelling beyond mere light entertainment.

Telling a first contact story that involves rather heavy handed themes of a doomsday like prophecy, like most good science fiction movies big to small, The Day the Earth Stood Still retains a sense of wonder and mystique to its tale, particularly early on. During these initial moments of exposition which come to an eventual climax of contact with an alien presence visiting Earth for unknown reasons, the movie achieves its only real piece of coherent and engaging drama; the way in which it unfolds is magnificent and capitalises on the movie's big effects budget in ways that feel impressive and yet substantially eerie at the same time- there are moments when this big shot sci-fi movie actually feels like a genuine product of imagination and heart.

Disappointingly however, this does not last very long. From here on in the feature slowly but surely declines in both mystique and interest, culminating in a third act which is about as convincing as it is exciting; which believe it or not, isn't much at all. It's around this point that things take a drastic turn from intelligent and insightful science-fiction to big dumb blockbuster action movie; the themes that are brought up during the movie's initial stages are belittled to a deux ex machina that never quite seems justified, and the climax –if you can call it that- feels stunted and perfunctory for the sake of giving a clean feeling of catharsis. It's perhaps the biggest reason why most major productions based on sci-fi scripts never seem to work; the balancing act between catering to the mass public and those wanting intelligent drama is a hard one to pull off, and nobody here seems quite sure how to do such a thing.

If there is one thing that I can praise the movie for, outside of its opening act that is, it would simply be within its excellent aesthetic design. From the dynamic score penned by Tyler Bates to the often endlessly interesting photography of David Tattersall, The Day the Earth Stood Still gets most of its outer shell right, even if everything that lies underneath is a less than inspiring mess. One also has to draw attention to lead star Keanu Reeves who plays Klaatu, the alien/human hybrid visitor and mediator who is welcomed to Earth with a less than hospitable, but terribly human introduction. Reeves is an actor known for his alien-like, wooden style- which is why he is so often found in these kinds of films- and it suits his character adequately enough here. Co-star Jennifer Connelly holds her own too, and while she isn't given much to work with throughout, she does a fine job in playing as Keanu's contrived human sociology lesson.

When the credits roll however, despite the movie's impressive effects, imaginative premise and somewhat entertaining moments, The Day the Earth Stood Still simply feels like an empty experience. As science fiction, the movie conjures up some intelligent questions and yet David Scarpa never seems quite up to the task of taking them any further; and as popcorn fodder, the movie simply doesn't do enough rule-breaking to come off as anything but standard fare. This awkward need to balance both crowds irrevocably results in a feature that indeed avoids polarising, but only to the point where mostly everyone will leave feeling under-stimulated. It has its fair share of compelling and visionary moments, but a distinct lack of development, coherency and substance stops The Day the Earth Stood Still from being one worth remembering. Light sci-fi with a dash of social intrigue that mildly entertains, but never reaches its potential.

- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)

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401 out of 583 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing

5/10
Author: FabD1 from France
10 December 2008

Let's be blunt: this is definitely not a good movie; it's not horrid either, it's just somewhere between average and bad. There are quite a few problems. First, with the script, which tries to incorporate all elements of the 1951 movie into a new, updated whole. The end result lacks cohesion and plays more like a sequence of 5 to 10 minutes scenes badly sewn together, the prime objective of each scene being either to introduce an element taken from the original movie or, on the contrary, an idea absent form the1951 original, instead of simply advancing the story. Second, the direction: poor, poor, poor. Third, some of the worst acting I have seen in a mainstream movie for a long time; I found the leads, especially Keanu, quite good but the other actors are decent at best, with Katie Bates delivering a frighteningly catastrophic 'performance'. I was not shocked (positively or negatively) by all the other aspects of the film.

Coming out of the theater, I found myself pondering about this remake and the 1951 original. I find the Robert Wise movie quite good, but not the masterpiece some claim it to be. I was therefore ready to accept a remake and the few new ideas offered by the 2008 movie made me painfully aware that a remake could indeed have been interesting, had it been put in better hands or, if I dare say so, in much better hands. So, to me, it's another sadly missed opportunity.

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311 out of 419 people found the following review useful:

A soon-to-be forgotten remake of a timeless classic

5/10
Author: BruddanChrist from United States
13 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 2008 version starts off somewhat promising. Unlike the original, there is a build-up to the first encounter with Klaatu, which is sort of effective in eliciting both wonder and fear. It's reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Independence Day. It proceeds down a similar path to the original for a while afterward, embellishing a bit in some areas.

While Michael Rennie's Klaatu was a complicated character, simultaneously coming off as creepy and trustworthy, Keanu Reeves's Klaatu is hardly more than a robot. He is completely inexpressive and undynamic. There's no way the audience can identify with him, so his fate seems ultimately unimportant. Also, his purpose is largely unclear in this version. He was a messenger in the original; the closest thing he can be related to in this version is a harbinger of death...

Which brings me to my biggest complaint with the movie. Robert Wise's version had a clear underlying message to its audience; Scott Derrickson's version doesn't. Though the "big issue" that the film deals with has been changed from the nuclear arms race to global warming, it is hardly touched upon. The destruction of the human race is triggered with little more than a few lines of explanation.

Not to undermine the efforts of the 1951 classic's film crew, but The Day The Earth Stood Still is a classic because of its message, a message that easily still applies today. Derrickson's version of The Day The Earth Stood Still could have been a marvelous way of touching modern audiences with an old truth. Instead, it focuses more on thrills and special effects. Klaatu would be disappointed...

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363 out of 559 people found the following review useful:

I couldn't sit still, let alone stand.

4/10
Author: Joseph Belanger (joseph.belanger@gmail.com) from Montreal
13 December 2008

I don't know about the earth standing still but I certainly had a hard time moving after this one finished. I think I may have been in shock. I didn't know they still made movies as bad as this. That's me, I guess; the eternal optimist, thinking one day Hollywood will see the error of their ways. I'm starting to think there's a greater chance of aliens landing in Manhattan though. You don't take a highly regarded classic like THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and update it for no reason other than to make a few bucks. Sure, you can pretend there is purpose; you can cash in on the current environmental crisis fears by insinuating that aliens have come to earth to save the planet from the horrifically unappreciative human race. When you make a film with such disregard for quality though, you can't do anything to convince me that you actually care about what you're trying to say.

I will give Hollywood this though; they have finally found the perfect vehicle for the now- veteran Hollywood actor, Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien in human form who has no capacity of expressing human emotion or understanding the intricacies of human nature and interaction. It might as well say that at the top of Reeves's resume so this is Reeves in his element. Honestly though, this is the first time I can say that Reeves's presence in a film has absolutely nothing to do with why it is unwatchable. You know you have a problem when dialogue is so bad that it even drags Reeves's acting down. In fact, having the familiar Reeves on board for this uneventful journey, alongside the strikingly beautiful, Jennifer Connelly, at least gives us something pretty to distract us from the banality of the entire affair. Klaatu certainly rocks that three-piece suit though.

The earth is supposed to stand still on this particular day because aliens have descended upon Central Park in a giant weather sphere of sorts. It is a momentous occasion, one that could be the sign of the end of days. Yet, in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, panic hardly seems to be in the air. Panic comes from a fear of the unknown and an inability to see a solution to your problems but David Scarpa's script is so painstakingly obvious and formulaic that you can see right through to the end at all times. I hope I'm not giving anything away here but as if this film would finish with humanity's extinction. And when the devices used to create the melodrama are so laughably contrived (who knew that a white step mom and a black step son could have such hard times getting along?), at least you have the special effects to revel in. Mind you, when the special effects are even more ridiculous than the ensuing melodrama in a big sci-fi pic like this, what is there to keep you sitting still, let along standing?

You'll never believe this but humanity, or at least the American government run portion of humanity, take immediate military action against the alien invaders before giving them the chance to make their case. This next bit is even more shocking. Apparently, violence is not the answer to solving our problems. I swear, I learned so many hard life lessons watching this movie. Perhaps the most important lesson though is that humanity will never learn. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL represents the same disposable and commercial interests that are the root of our environmental problems. Yet, here is it preaching against the very values that justify its existence. For that reason alone, I would consider this film to be one of the most hopeless (and hapless) films of the year. We're essentially doomed so I say you can take it, Klaatu. Earth is all yours. We clearly don't deserve it.

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243 out of 321 people found the following review useful:

The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

1/10
Author: JoeWho from United States
13 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ouch! $11 times 2 wasted on IMAX. There are so many plot holes in this film I don't know where to begin. 1. A UFO is rushing towards NYC. Prediction is a cataclysmic collision. They assemble a team of scientists and rush them right to ground zero. Are you kidding? Never happen. 2, The UFO "lands" and the first people out are the scientists. Even ahead of the military. One walks right up to shake hands with the alien. Please! Never happen. 3.Klaatu is brought for interrogation. They bring him into a room with a lone interrogator and leave. Are you kidding? No guards in the room? Never happen. 4. The military decides to enclose GORT in giant steel panels. They built these in a matter of hours? How? Where? 5. After enclosing him, he is lowered into some underground laboratory that appears custom-made for him. Where did that come from? How did they get him there? 6. They break a diamond drill on GORT and say it will take 24 hours to fix. The boss barks "Fix it now"!. They send in a poor schlub who promptly screws on a new drill bit. Then the sucker dies. 7. Klaatu meets with another of his kind who has lived among us for 70 years and apparently become quite fond of us. Why didn't he convince the rest of the aliens not to destroy humanity? He came to the same conclusion that Klaatu eventually reaches. 8. The "swarm" is destroying everything man-made in its path. We see it destroy Giants Stadium in a matter of seconds. Then it is in Central Park. Why aren't all the buildings in Manhattan falling down? Klaatu hasn't done anything to stop them up to this point. Oh--I could go on and on. Then there are all of the plot clichés; Good scientist resists evil government. Frustrated step-mom/ disconnected stepson find redemption through love of dead father/husband. Boo hoo hoo. Stupid general fires all his big guns at indestructible alien. You know what's going to happen. Yup, general gets destroyed/vaporized/eaten. Oh, fugitive scientist, alien, and kid go to see kindly old professor. They always do that. And the authorities always show up there. This movie stinks on ice. I'm not a huge fan of the original but at least that had a story and decent acting.

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289 out of 417 people found the following review useful:

What Happened to Gort?

1/10
Author: ScarecrowsBrain from Thailand
10 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Day the Earth Stood Still is an utterly pointless movie remake. The original - and I'll pause here for everyone who's never seen it to roll their eyes - is one of the best sci-fi films of all times. This modern telling keeps only the names of the characters and abandons everything else.

In this version the trouble starts early on. Alien visitors arrive on earth (in an improbably crowded Central Park at night) but we don't see the landing of their vessel. Instead we get lots of dramatic mist and scientist types in haz-mat gear looking lost. Keanu/Klaatu emerges from a pretty orb, greets the pretty microbiologist, then gets shot.

Cue Gort, the indestructible robot guardian of peace. In what should have been the most dramatic part of the film ends up being its biggest disappointment. Gort, a textbook example of budget CGI filmaking, appears and makes a loud noise that frightens police dogs. And just when he seems poised to open a can of whip-ass, he gets silenced by Keanu/Klaatu who is coiled up in a fetal position on the pretty microbiologist's lap.

The rest of the movie plays like a throwaway Spielberg vehicle with a cute kid, lots of cheap sentiment, an alien who eventually goes home and the never-ending message that Love Will Save The Day.

Listen folks, save your money and seek out the 1951 version, filmed in beautiful black & white. The soundtrack alone is worth the price of a rental and when you see it, you can join the legions of fans who's eyes glaze over when they hear those three immortal words: klaatu barada nicto.

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160 out of 202 people found the following review useful:

The Day the Audience Shrugged Their Shoulders

1/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
14 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a stunningly inept remake of the 1950's classic of the same name. It's one of those big-budget films so unfathomably dull and inane, you wonder how it ever got made. Whereas the original warned of the dangers of nuclear armament, this modern update boldly chides us for being mean to each other and not taking care of the environment. Gee, Hollywood, thanks for the swell insight! This Christmas season Hollywood teaches us that people can sometimes suck, but only that special kind of film can suck totally.

Although the entire production is horrible from top to bottom, the inert direction of Scott Derrickson and the randomly asinine script from David Scarpa bear most of the blame. The screenplay clearly went through arbitrary rewrites, perhaps after being focus-grouped to death, and shows not a single breath of imagination. Around every turn, it wastes opportunities and insults the intelligence of the audience and gives us not one authentic character or moment to connect to. Even when it thinks it's being cool (like the lame reveal that those alien spheres are actually "arks" trying to save animal life before the world is annihilated) the script fails miserably. One sphere that is shown on the back of a pick-up truck being attacked by flame-throwers in some foreign desert town inexplicably contains squid, because, well, the shadows of squid inside a giant sphere look kinda neat, that's why! At least the script teaches us one thing. Apparently all you need to do in order to survive an apocalyptic robotic alien insect attack that devours everything in sight is to hide under a bridge in Central Park!

The saddest part of the film is how the director wastes his talented cast. The always wooden Keanu Reeves was perfectly chosen to play the alien Klaatu, but even he seems to be disbelieving the words that are coming out of his mouth. Poor Jennifer Connelly, an immensely emotive and alluring actress, appears to be in physical pain or constipated for most the film, obviously stunned she agreed to star in this junk. Kathy Bates and John Cleese apparently showed up only for their paychecks and sleepwalk through their lines, and at one pivotal moment where Bates' Secretary of State attempts to show regret for some bad decisions made, she actually appears to fall asleep in her chair. And then there's poor little Jaden Smith, who appears bored to tears throughout the film and is given no direction from Derrickson except when he is asked to cry on cue in the supposed emotional climax of the picture that left me feeling sorry for all involved.

However, if anyone should be hung for this travesty, it's the producers, who must've run out of money at some point and filled the gap in funds with some nauseating product placement. How else do we explain Klaatu's trip to McDonald's for an important meeting with another of his kind?

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is easily the worst film of the year. At least "The Happening" had its accidentally humorous moments. This clunker offers no such relief. Even the special effects are done in a lazy and unimaginative manner. It's so awful, I was stunned into stillness while the rest of the audience seemed to shrug their shoulders.

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208 out of 312 people found the following review useful:

Sponsored by McDonald's, Citizen, Honda and LG

4/10
Author: Framescourer from London, UK
13 December 2008

A schizophrenic film. Scott Derrickson has done his best to make a run of the mill CGI-enhanced sci-fi thriller but has found himself thwarted by the remarkable screen presence of Keanu Reeves and the ghost of Bernard Herrmann.

Reeves was the draw for me; where some find him laughable, I find him sober and engaging. His alien-in-a-human is at once non-porous of emotion but registers the emotional to-ing and fro-ing that decide his actions. He's a classy screen idol, well-cast. The rest of the cast (the very capable Jennifer Connelly included) are at the mercy of a truly ridiculous story both in concept and in local narrative. The gravity of the situation in which humankind as represented by Americans finds itself is only captured in the single-gear performance of Reeves and the unobtrusive but peculiar 'Herrmann' score, resurrected for the film by Tyler Bates.

There's a lot of silliness - a lot of cartoonish world's end drama which, strangely, doesn't do what it purports to which is update the 1951 original. It still feels dated. We are also presented with John Cleese as a Nobel Prize winner. Well that's also ridiculous on the face of it - but I tell you something, if the end where nigh and you wanted someone leftfield to plead your seemingly intractable case, you'd do a lot worse than Cleese. As a final oddity the product placement in the film seems at odds with the frowning upon consumerism that's at it's heart. Or maybe they're companies leading the charge to save the world. It's all a bit confusing. 4/10

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216 out of 341 people found the following review useful:

Not in the same Universe as the original

4/10
Author: bluess-1 from United States
12 December 2008

Probably the biggest letdown of my sci-fi viewing life. Even worse than the 3rd "Alien" movie. So many bad points that I can't remember them all. I'll touch on the lowlights.

First, as the unidentified object approached earth, everyone seemed dumb on the reason for the change in direction. Duh uh, like wouldn't a spacecraft immediately come to mind as a possibility?? Then the excitement and anticipation of a visible ship was taken away by clouds and fog and a vague vessel.

As stated elsewhere, the initial contact in the park was ended with Klatu getting shot for an offered handshake (no mysterious equipment popping open). And several times in the movie, there were vehicles, equipment and/or people more evenly spaced out (in large areas) than a marching band.

Rather than go over a scene by scene critique, the following complaints come to mind. 1)bad writing; all actors had trite and often repetitive lines. 2)The Secretary of State was scary, illogical, and didn't seem to be in much contact with the bosses(the President and VP). 3)Poor or no acting by the "Stars" and the kid. 4) choppy flow, frequently too slow or unclear. Weak continuity, scenes seemed to be just stuck together. 5) Gort was pathetic. Like the recent "Hulks", unconvincing CG and too big to realistically show it in contact with humans. (should have gotten Shaq for the part).... 6) No actor to actor chemistry ever formed. 7) The final scenes completely missed out on the dramas of the "standing still" time and the alien departure. What message did he leave us with?

Since I'm a poor typist and can't immediately recall all of my issues with the film, I'll end my comments by saying that I have no problem with changing a remake so that it is more up to date and offers some different twists to add interest. However, this film completely missed the mark of maintaining the strengths that the original script had, namely convincing acting with consistent story and character build-up leading to a dramatic final scene with a clear message to all of the world.

They could and should have done far far better.

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