‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ 

While it's not even close to being one of the best movies of all time, I must admit that I've got a soft spot for the 1951 sci-fi classic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Flying saucer on the Mall in Washington? Check. Seven-foot metallic robot named Gort, with a deathray in his head? Oh yeah. Anti-nuke message waaaaay before being anti-nuke was cool? Yeppers. “Klaatu Barada Nikto?” Yes, indeedy.

This is all to say that I was prepared to be completely and utterly disappointed when I heard Hollywood was gearing up for a big-budget remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” To make matters worse, I heard the film was to star Keanu Reeves — and no, not as carved-from-aluminum Gort, but as the eloquent ambassador from the stars Klaatu. Kill, Gort, kill! We're all in danger!

Just as I suspected, the updated “The Day the Earth Stood Still” turns out to be far inferior to the original, trading in the 1951 version's gentle, curious Klaatu for Keanu on Quaaludes.

While the hallmarks of the original plot are all there — spaceman, spaceship, space robot, and a single-mom damsel in distress — pretty much everything else has been given the chop-socky. Where the 1951 Klaatu came to Earth to warn us about the dangers of nuclear weaponry that might someday make us the ultimate bad neighbor to our intergalactic cousins, this time he represents the Horsehead Nebula Chapter of Greenpeace.

After arriving in a glowing ball of light that descends on New York's Central Park, Klaatu emerges and gets immediately shot by the trigger-happy Welcome Wagon. This causes his giganto-bot Gort (looking a lot like the original) to get medieval on their asses until Klaatu calls him off. Recovering in the hospital, Klaatu soon reveals the reason for his visit. He wants to deliver a message to the United Nations: Quit mucking up the environment, or get wiped off the top of the food chain so every other species can survive. That's a nice sentiment (if you're, like, a spotted owl), but this is apparently a parallel universe where the Bush administration — in the guise of government heavy Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) — won a third term, and they have other plans. Luckily, Klaatu/Keanu manages to bore his guards into a stupor with his stoned monotone, and he escapes. After hooking up with exo-biologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and her adorable-but-affected step-kid Jacob (Jaden Smith), Klaatu tries to learn the true meaning of what it is to be human while on his way to stop Gort from transforming into a swarm of ravenous aluminum horseflies and devouring every manmade object on Earth.   

While Connelly, Bates and John Cleese (as Nobel Prize winner Professor Basil Barnhardt) swim mightily against the tepid tide that is Keanu Reeves, they don't get very far. By the end of the movie, you're kinda actually hoping the metallic swarm from the film will pour into the theater and devour the joint, just so something interesting might happen. Oh, and (SPOILER ALERT!) there's no “Klaatu Barada Nikto.” What? You just can't have “The Day the Earth Stood Still” without “Klaatu Barada Nikto.” Is nothing sacred? Anticipating that was the only thing keeping us awake for the end of the movie, for chrissakes! On the plus side, you can read those words in Jennifer Connelly's eyes every time she looks at Keanu. Roughly translated, it means: “I'm making $10 million bucks off this movie. I'm making $10 million bucks off this movie.”

In short, the new “The Day the Earth Stood Still” — for all its whiz-bang special effects — is a pale impersonation of the 1951 version. My advice: Save yourself some coin and catch the original.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by David Koon

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • George Takei to UCA

    Also, 'The Halloween Tree' at Ron Robinson, Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival, Fourche Creek Discovery Day, Halloween on the River, Chanticleer at Christ Episcopal Church and Andrew W.K. at Revolution.
  • After Auburn

    I'm not one for hyperbole, but the mere mention of "56-3" changes things.

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation