Those annoyingly emboldened tree-huggers of America must be having one hell of a circle jerk over the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. How lucky for them that another big budget Hollywood production has taken on their cause (The Happening being another that comes to mind)!
But let me get this straight, an alien comes to Earth and instead of annihilating mankind based off of our smugness and nuclear destructive desires (per the original The Day the Earth Stood Still) they want to destroy us because we’re smug and mean to the planet. This is an upgrade?
Roughly the only aspect of The Day the Earth Stood Still that was done properly was casting Keanu Reeves as the Klaatu, the extraterrestrial visitor. If the production team wanted someone who can, without an ounce of effort, remain devoid of emotion, Keanu was certainly their go to guy. He’s eerily expressionless and blank, as I would suspect an alien invader on a fact-finding mission would be.
Trying to pull on the human emotion strings and make the case for our survival are Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith. Jennifer is Dr. Helen Benson, a Princeton astrobiologist asked to investigate the giant alien snow globe that has inexplicably landed itself in Central Park and its passengers: Klaatu and his towering, one-eyed robot Gort. Jaden takes on the role of Jacob, Helen’s angry eight-year old stepson. Klaatu, already having a distaste for humans (getting shot at tends to do that to a fellow), finds himself in the middle of Helen’s and Jacob’s strained relationship. Thankfully for the world, their humdrum reconciliation is proof positive that people with disparate backgrounds can come together and love one another. Unconditional love and understanding apparently make good reasons to not mass exterminate a species.
If I were Klaatu, I would have kept the button pressed that put the alien’s impressive destruction plan into motion and sat back with a feeling of accomplishment or at a minimum unleashed Gort in a more pronounced way, allowing him to pulverize everything and anything. After all, Klaatu is supposedly from an advanced civilization and should know full well, that the endearing moments he witnessed are more fiction than fact. We’re not capable of change. We feign acceptance only when it suits our purposes (we can’t even do it when we’re faced with extinction). We deserve to be eradicated by some higher power, but not because we’re big meanies to the environment (I’m not going to debate the merits of global warming here) — we deserve to be wiped out because at our roots we’re all egotistical assholes consumed with our own agendas. They can start with some of my ex-girlfriends and a few of my old bosses. See what I mean?
Had a different turn been taken with The Day the Earth Stood Still, it may very well have been worth watching. As it stands now, aside from the high-tech wizardry from effects studio Weta Digital, there isn’t a damn thing worth remembering. Not even the underlying “Save the Planet, Save Ourselves” rallying cry makes its way out of the soundproofed walls of the theater. This timely update sadly does the original little justice — very little justice — and thus I strongly recommend watching the 1951 version instead.