Friday, 12 December 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

More an ad than movie...

As an unknown force begins to rapidly make it's way to Earth, the United States government attempts to thwart the object with the help of various well established scientists, one such being Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly). With just over an hour to devise a plan the scientists come up empty handed and are forced to witness the destruction of Washington. Must to their surprise the unknown force slows down and settles on earth with little destruction and is seen in the form of a gigantic sphere. A humanoid figure going by the name Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) leaves the sphere and impresses upon Benson the imminent eradication of humankind.

The opening of the film, set may years before the events which occur in the present time line, is meant to serve as a sort of teaser to the main story. However the opening is not engaging and lacks any form of mystery. The scene itself could have been shorter and better used in the middle arc of the film in the form of a flashback or explanation. This would have cut a few minutes off the run time as the film feels a little too long for almost no reason. As for the story itself, it is quite simplistic. Even with the global warming undertones the film presents there is little to engage audiences on an intellectual level. The story does have some noteworthy moments, such as when it is discovered as to the real reason for Klaatu visit Earth and his role in this plan. But far too little is developed and the film suffers for it. The ending is as well quite contrived and doesn't give the full impact of the environmentalist messages. As such the story feels washed out and more like an an attempt at holding a protest sign then actually going out and physically doing something about the problem at hand.

On the acting front the film delivers a fairly decent effort. Reeve's character is essentially emotionless, and while Reeves himself is not the most talented actor it does feel harsh to say that he was aptly suited for the role when he has shown at times in his career his ability to act. That said, he was aptly suited for a being who could not feel, but merely decipher the world through sheer logic. This is a contrast Connelly's character who is dealing with some emotional situations, especially with the death of her husband. Connelly performs well enough but due to script problems it becomes difficult for her to make the character more believable. The last of the in actors is Jaden Smith. Jaden's character is in a nutshell, a brat. But a brat who does undergo development. Jaden does a pretty decent job with the role but like the previous two actors, the script really falters in allowing the audience to have a connection with the character. Ultimately the characters feel more like tools just to get some theme across. That theme is pretty blatant and materialises into nothing audiences haven't been exposed to before. As such, the plan to replace character involvement for another aspect of the film does falls flat.

From a technical aspect the music does work though it is nothing special. It is perhaps not eerie enough when it should be eerie, or jolted enough in scenes of panic and action. However the CG elements range from good to mediocre. When special effects are added the CG can be quite appealing to the eye, such as the sphere which is used for transportation by the aliens. But the countless CG models used on military helicopters, mainly, is quite bland. While it is not evidently noticeable, praise must be given to the 3D modelers for hiding the bad CG behind an array of smoke and/ or darkness so that the models look more adequate then they ought to. at said, the CG used towards the end of the film is consistently good.

There is no sex, minimal side nudity with is not at the least graphic, minimal language and minimal violence, which involves mainly military procedures.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a film which falters because of its direction. Yes there are factors in the film which don't work but these mainly occur because of the director's approach to the subject matter. The script is not fueled enough to give life to the characters and this becomes an evident difficulty for the actors. The story is far too linear focusing more on tying to masquerade environmentalist messages, instead of trying to intertwine these messages into a story with some substance. Even the CG is a touch-and-go sort of situation. That said the film is not a total failure: it has it's moments. The special effects do look nice at times, and the script does up itself at the rare moment, but it all could have been so much more.


Screen date: 12 December 2008
Release date: 12 December 2008


Farzan said...

Good review, I held off not watching this film simply because of the bad reviews. I watched the original and simply loved it. It was great and had great moments. This film looks to just cash in on the name of the film.

Free Movies said...

Thanks for reviews ! The Day the Earth Stood Still gets most of its outer shell right, even if everything that lies underneath is a less than inspiring mess.