The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still (7/29/12) FXM (2008 **) Directed by Scott Derrickson, starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and (for some reason) John Cleese. An alien named Klaatu (as in “Klaatu Barada Nikto”) is the planet Earth’s savior. His first task is an obvious enough one: exterminate all humans. I’d heard this was a fairly mediocre — and arguably unnecessary — remake of the 1951 Robert Wise / Michael Rennie / Patricia Neal original. But sometimes it’s mindless fun to watch movies (particularly sci fi movies) with lowered expectations. Keanu Reeves (whose first name I still can’t pronounce correctly without slowing down to half speed) played an alien-in-human-form far less convincingly than you might expect. Jennifer Connelly did a decent job, but her character’s motivation for helping Klaatu escape didn’t exactly pass the “plausibility test” and Connelly otherwise didn’t really have much to work with. I almost wrote that her experience on Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003) had been good preparation for this role, which was in turn good prep for Thor (2011). But then I realized her role in Thor had actually been played by Natalie Portman. Ultimately, I didn’t hate The Day the Earth Stood Still, and I’ve certainly watched far worse, but there’s still not much to recommend it. It’s just an unmemorable remake that never needed to happen. Heck, even the apocalyptic effects were pretty yawn-inducing.

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