28 January 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

If there were an award for the most ridiculously overblown environmentally-conscious film of the year, The Day the Earth Stood Still would be a strong contender to knobble The Happening from its throne. Keanu Reeves phones it in as Klaatu, reprising his role as a bland slimy embryonic automaton, hellbent on saving the earth from the vaguely hinted-at traumas that we’ve inflicted upon it (despite at no point conveying the sagacious solution he seems to possess). Jaden Smith is bratty and annoying, and Jennifer Connolly’s turn as scientist Helen Benson is about as emotionally rewarding as the incessant product placement which undermines the scarcest chance of engagement in each scene. One of the film’s most eye-rollingly, inadvertently comical moments comes when the ever po-faced Klaatu orders Helen to pull over, to decide the fate of the world in a McDonalds, whose logo, specific meals and drinks radiate from the screen.

It’s dismally generic, using every tried-and-tested disaster movie technique from shots of TV news reports to US government types waffling technical war/science jargon in an attempt to lend the film credibility. As is the wont of most big-budget remakes/blockbusters this year, The Day the Earth Stood Still is rendered ever more bland and lifeless by the CGI that infests each scene – from the swirling balls of gas which pop up across the world, extending needlessly to entire cityscapes, and robots which look so low budget they wouldn’t even pass an audition to star in Doctor Who. There are so many gaping plot faults that it’s hard to know where to start, the most startlingly obvious being the abject lack of day to night consistency as the characters move from in- to outdoors. And most typically of all, despite the colossal disaster engulfing the world, the day is saved by a handy, seemingly deus ex machina change of mind on Klaatu’s behalf. Avoid at all costs… 

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