Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The original version of this movie was always one of my Dad's favorites. So when I found out that Keanu Reeves would be starring in a remake, I was skeptical at best. I'm generally not a fan of a remake. To me, if a classic film is good enough to be remade, then it should also be good enough to be left alone to remain a classic. For those of you wanting to see the movie be warned, there may be slight spoilers ahead.

This new version of The Day the Earth Stood Still was about what I expected. I didn't get my hopes up, so I wasn't disappointed. I went into this thing expecting a big budget movie driven by special effects, and that's about what I got. Keanu Reeves gave a very Keanu Reeves performance. If you've seen any of his other movies, you know what I mean.

As I think about the movie more since I saw it last night, the more I like it. That's not to say I love the movie. I'm not writing this to say it was the best movie of the year. It really was about what I expected to see. But I think that Will Smith's kid, Jaden, did a pretty good job playing Jennifer Connelly's stepson, Jacob. At first I was just writing his character off as a jerk who was just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. But he was a deeper character dealing with a lot of realistic issues that a kid in that situation would deal with. And I'm not talking about being in the thick of an alien invasion. His real mother died when he was a baby. His dad, an army engineer, later married Jennifer Connelly, then was killed in Iraq (or so we can assume). So here's a kid who has some serious abandonment issues and is understandably angry with the world and takes it out on his stepmother. In the beginning of the movie you're ready to not like the kid, but as his story unfolds you become more sympathetic.

The original was a warning against the dangers of nuclear weapons and tried to teach a lesson in the midst of the Cold War. Logically, that part of the plot has been tweaked to reflect our planet's current peril: the environment. So the message is basically, save the world or die. Klaatu makes a good point when he says, "If the earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives." I don't know about that second part, but I guess, eventually, we will see about that.

The movie makes the point that it's not too late for humans to change. They point out that the only chance a civilization has to change comes when there's no choice but to change. On the brink of destruction, a species or civilization must adapt or die. That kind of makes sense too.

So overall, my take on the movie is that it was okay. It wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably wait for the DVD. Instead, I would have watched the original, in all its black and white glory.

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