Length: 103 min
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jaden Smith
Director: Scott Derrickson
Producers: Paul Harris Boardman, Gregory Goodman, Erwin Stoff
Screenplay: David Scarpa
(You think: "'Spoilerific'? Oh, that's a bad sign." And you're right.)
A better title would be, "103 Minutes A Movie Stood Still," or "103 Minutes My Life Stood Still."
This is a bad movie. Oh, it has moments, but they're not worth it.
It's a bad remake. Let's just take one point of comparison: the 1951 movie was called "The Day the Earth Stood Still" because, you know, the earth stood still! It was a major plot point: Klaatu gets the attention of everyone in the earth by stopping all power, worldwide, at the same time. Everything on Earth. It stood still. On a day.
Here? Nope, no sir! Oh, well, briefly everything pauses at one point — as a side-effect of something else. Not to be confused with the pause that begins with the opening sequence and ends only with the abrupt end-credits. But this power-down is peripheral, a byproduct of something else that happens. I guess so they can keep the title.
What else is bad? Well, let's see: Keanu Reeves! At his best, Reeves is an actor of... how to say this nicely?... limited range.
But in this movie, it's as if the director said to him, "Say, Keanu — you know all that lively, heart-stirring, evocative, eloquent emoting and over-the-top embodying you always do? Well, don't do any of that!"
It reminds me of the comedian whose doctor told him to make sure his sick cat got plenty of rest. "Rest?" he laughed. "The cat sleeps 22 hours a day! If he got any more rest, I'd have to stuff him and mount him!"
This is that kind of a performance. The Sphinx is looking over at Reeves saying, "Dude. Move. Do something."
I don't really get his appeal. A couple of nameless supporting actors are far more handsome and far more expressive than he, but... ah, well.
Now, Jennifer Connelly — well, bless 'er, she's a pretty lady and a competent actress, and the one character you can almost care for. But she loses all credibility pretty soon, and never really gets it back. Then there's Jaden Smith (Will's son), who does his role, but it's an unsympathetic, predictable, annoying role, another big deficit in relation to the equivalent character (played by Father Knows Best's Billy Gray) in the original. Kathy Bates is always a good and capable presence, but also is not given a deeply-written nor thought-out character.
I went (A) to have fun with Valerie, (B) in spite of some things I'd heard already, and (C) figuring that at least there'd be some good eye-candy. Well: (A) mission accomplished; (B) mistake; and (C) nope, not so much.
In place of 1951's cool (for the time) flying saucer, we get a blurry, gauzy, unseeable mass of whatever, that resolves into a big marbled animated bowling ball. BO RING. And Gort is fairly cool, but doesn't do a great deal. He does however turn into the one fairly cool (if silly) special effect, as he dissolves into a swarm of what Valerie called "cutter bees" that eat everything up. Buildings, trucks, trees, they all dissolve; that's a pretty decent visual.
Oh my gosh, and then there's The Message. We're destroying the Earth! So these intergalactic AlGorean Democrats — always knowing better than the masses! — decide to kill us all to save the planet.
("Your planet?" Reeves challenges Bates archly at one point. To which one wishes to respond, "Yeah, well, a lot more so than it is your planet!")
To save the planet, ah, yes, fine. And... where did we come from? Of what ecosystem are we a part? What gives the intergalactic meddlers the right to decide that one dominant species on the planet is expendable, but by golly, the potato bugs and the maggots and the three-toed sloths must live!!!
Yep, it was eco-silliness preached with somber intensity. But at the last possible second Ke-laat-nu decides to give us a chance after he sees Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith hug. (Yep, they don't teach logic in space, either.)
It's accepted as a fact that we're destroying the planet, though Ke-laat-nu has no trouble finding an untouched forest to run through endlessly and pointlessly, and though one of his little ark-spheres in a nearby pond has all sorts of animals and creatures surviving and thriving and swarming off to leave us to our doom. Gee, thanks, Yertle.
(And, BTW, what happens with the GORT-storm ends? The planet is covered with metallic cutter-bees a mile deep? Yep, yessir, that will make for a verdant paradise!)
In sum: Save your money. How bad? We won't even rent it to show the boys for Burger Night when it comes out on DVD. We'll watch the original instead.
Thankfully, I know for a fact that we won't destroy the planet, because I know there will be a densely-populated world for Jesus to judge, return to, and rule over. It will be remade one day, and it will be a verdant Paradise one day — literally. But it won't happen through our recycling programs, solar panels, windmills, or odd-looking cars. It will be done by the triune God of Scripture.
So what we need to know most is not how to recycle, worthwhile though that is. We need to know Jesus.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.BAD-NEWS POSTSCRIPT: Fox made history by selecting this (!) as the first movie to be beamed into deep space.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
Causing one to picture this dialogue afterwards, in a distant galaxy, following a moment or two of silence:
ZIGGO: Glorp?UPDATE: a hapless Christian writer said nice things about the movie, provoking me to add a few thoughts over at Pyro.
GLORP: Yeah, Ziggo.
ZIGGO: You know, before watching this, I wasn't even thinking of destroying that planet.
GLORP: Me neither.
ZIGGO: But now... now, after that....
GLORP: Right there with you, Ziggo. Right there with you.