Friday, January 09, 2009

THE DAY KLAATU SAID WHOA! (Warning! Spoilers!)

When I saw the trailer for "The Day the Earth Stood Still" I knew it was going to be trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with D and that stands for dumb.

Just to set the record straight, I'm not one of those classic movie geeks who's against remaking any and all old movies. Some of them work. Both Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments are remakes of silent films. Victor/Victoria is a remake of an old German film. And lest we forget "The Maltese Falcon" had been made twice before Bogart stepped into Sam Spade's shoes. "Fistful of Dollars" is a remake of "Yojimbo" (Unfortunately they didn't stop there. So is "Last Man Standing")

So, no, I'm not anti-remake. But I also think it's kind of silly to set yourself up for a fall.

There are certain movies that were done right the first time, and there's no real point in attempting to try to get lightning to strike twice. "Citizen Kane" leaps to mind. "Children of Paradise" is another one. So is "The Day the Earth Stood Still"...

This isn't a case of "don't mess with my sci- fi classics.". John Carpenter's version of "The Thing from Another World" is equal to Howard Hawks' version, and maybe even a little more claustrophobic. Phil Kaufman's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is just as paranoid as Don Siegel's. (We'll leave "The Invasion" out of this) I haven't got a problem with a remake that recognizes what made the original work and expands on it.

"The Day Klaatu went Whoa" doesn't do any of those things.

Where to begin? Keanu is too easy, in fact his flat acting style sort of suits Klaatu to a point. Jennifer Connelly is just okay (But the waif look doesn't suit her at all). John Cleese is wasted for the 5 or so minutes he's on screen. Kathy Bates is her dependable self as a Hilary Clinton style Secretary of State (Apparently the President doesn't deal with Alen Invasions). The Smith kid is annoying, but then in this version he's supposed to be...

Hey! We may have something... This version...Yeah.

Remember how in the original the Aliens...Okay the One Alien and his badass Robot comes to Earth because of Nuclear proliferation and impending space travel threatens the peace they've struggled to maintain for centuries "As long as you went about killing each other it was none of our business,,,"etc. Remember the theme of Non Violence? Sort of the cornerstone of the original? Remember that?

Okay, now forget it...

This Klaatu hasn't come to negotiate. This Klaatu has come with the Universe's Final Solution to Earth's environmental issues...Yes, that's right. Earth's Environmental issues are a threat to the rest of the Universe,,,No , not really. What's being threatened are billions of other species on Earth and the answer and the solution is to rescue all the others and 86 the one that's causing all the trouble. You know...Us. Not the US...You and me. The Universe's final solution is not unlike Himmler's, only a tad more comprehensive.

Kinda misses the point, of the original, don't you think?

The major culprit in this disaster is the script written by David Scarpa. It is gratuitously stupid which is sad because what it's based on is so smart. I'm not a science type, and I got lousy marks in it in High School. So maybe it's just that I've seen enough movies to know that if an extraterrestrial object is on a certain trajectory, then abruptly changes course, and then accelerates, my first assumption isn't going to be that it's a big meteor about to have a devastating impact on Earth. I would assume that some intelligence is guiding it. But lets go back to the meteor scenario. Having determined that Ground Zero is going to be New York City, my next move is not going to be to round up the leading scientists of the day (all of whom seem to be the same age) and ship them to where the meteor is about to impact. Wouldn't it be a better idea to get them as far away as possible to deal with the resulting crisis in relative safety? And this is just the first 10 minutes...

And Gort apparently is now an acronym for Genetically Organized Robotic Technology... I know. I said "Huh?!" too.

I could go on, but there's just too much. I will touch on something that I found a little irksome. I mentioned Jaden Smith playing the kid. I'll admit that when I saw the trailer, I thought "Cool, Jennifer Connelly has a bi-racial kid in this version". She does not. They go to great lengths to explain that the boy is a product of a previous marriage between Connelly's deceased husband and his previously deceased wife, presumably both African American. Connelly is merely the step mother, which gives the kid an excuse to behave badly toward her. I'm probably wrong but I kept thinking cop-out. Why couldn't he have been her kid? The separation anxiety from the death of one parent should have been enough to explain the kid's behaviour. I mean c'mon guys, you just elected a bi-racial President...

There is a plus side to this Movie.

The studio released a 2 disc special edition of the Original as a tie in.

It's on sale at HMV and costs less than 2 tickets to the remake.

I heartily recommend it.

Klaatu Barada Nicto...Big Time!

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