12.12.08 is the Day the Earth Stood Still
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (2008)
|Year Filmed:||December 2007 - April 2008|
|Writers:||David Scarpa (screenplay)|
Edmund H. North (1951 screenplay)
|Articles:||Focus: 'Day the Earth Stood Still, The'|
Tagged 'Day the Earth Stood Still, The'
|Jennifer Connelly||Dr. Helen Benson|
|Kathy Bates||SecDef Regina Jackson|
|Jaden Smith||Jacob Benson|
|John Cleese||Professor Barnhardt|
|Jon Hamm||Michael Granier|
|Kyle Chandler||John Driscoll|
|James Hong||Mr. Wu|
|John Rothman||Dr. Myron|
|Juan Riedinger||William Kwan|
In this remake of the 1951 film of the same title, the alien Klaatu arrives with his bodacious robot pal Gort to save the Earth from the hands of us destructive humans, while an astrobiologist and a John Cleese attempt to convince him that we really don't suck that much.
Posters – click to enlarge
|lizaird||The Day the Earth Stood Still - A Critical Review (2011-07-26 17:32:14)|
Forum Posts: 70
|Having just returned from the first screening of the Day the Earth Stood Still (TDTESS), I can assure most ardent scifi aficionados that fear not, the classic has not been shattered, but reborn for a new age and generation. For those of you familiar with the classic Robert Wise 1951 production, you may find that you are both enthralled and chilled by the newest remake. This version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, by Scott Derrickson stars Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Jon Hamm, with Kathy Bates and John Cleese. Fear not my friends, this film has not yet turned the page as yet another superficial Hollywood CGI extravaganza, nor has it demeaned the original. Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) is not here to save us, but he is here to save the earth from us.
The Robert Wise original takes place in the pre-nuclear mccarthian age when paranoia and mistrust is abound. When an alien craft lands in Washington , the navigator/diplomat greets mankind with a message for our leaders whilst he is met with mistrust and apprehension as fear and ignorance mount. Michael Rennie’s portrayal as Klaatu in the original went beyond the capacity of humanity and mirrored our best qualities which eventually through the compassion and understanding of Helen Benson (in the original portrayed by Patricia Neal), succeeded in saving us from mass destruction due to our violent and destructive ways by the ever present pseudo companion/robot Gort. The message was clear: whether it be our force of a violent nature or through arrogant use of technology (nuclear weaponry) it would not be tolerated in the cosmos by other sentient species.
The original version has resonated well over time and the message is still very understandable today. So why make a remake ? Are there no more viable scripts available? Or did someone just want to make a huge blockbuster with CGI that would “blow up a lot of stuff” ?
So I asked myself why, being an admirer of the original. Though the original message is still very clear, something has changed since 1951. I am not talking about the basic social ambitions and cultural milestones of an era, no, I am talking about a feeling. It has risen and taken wing in perhaps the last decade or so, more so in recent years. We are now no longer fearing an unknown enemy or a distant neighbor. We fear our teachers, our friends, our lawmakers, our politicians - in other words the guy right beside us. In a world gone mad with paranoia and criticism we react violently rather than objectively, and in here is the new message for the new generation.
Scott Derricksons retold version is eerily similar to the original and resembles the original with all good intentions - but there are differences, some subtle and others not. The remarkable cast forms a tonal pallette of various hues.
Jennifer Connelly stars as Helen Benson as an astro biologist and a step-mother to Jaden Smith’s character. Her portrayal of Helen provides viewers with the warm rich tones of compassion, frustration, intellect and sincerity. Her performance is not only believable but she makes you want to believe in her (Helen) and to succeed about doing what is right even though she knows it may not succeed. She provides honest hope without mistrust, but with objectivity. I find this performance to be one of the best in her career.
Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith) provides the harsh tones of profound loss, mistrust, defiance and wilful independence. Not easy for any actor. But to do so at a young age is quite startling - so much so that he will defiantly be an actor to watch in forthcoming projects.
Jon Hamm is cast as a “moderator” type character that provides subtle undertones to Jennifer Connelly’s performance. Though portraying a scientist he provides “average guy” response to an extraordinary situation that is essentially for him, a leap of faith. A very big difference from his “Mad Men” character.
Kathy Bates’ character as Secretary of State and representing the President of the United States is both sincere and human, a very difficult portrayal giving the current arena of politics. One can’t help but see very subtle reminders of Gov. Sarah Palin in her performance, though clearly Ms. Bates does provide more depth. Her performance though restricted shows both the anxiety and paranoia that exists today, as well as the fearful knowledge of what might truly happen given the cinematic circumstances, were they to exist. One can’t help but be chilled and horrified at the impending doom with her words “the flood”.
John Cleese as Helen’s mentor provides both magic and whimsy, but most defiantly not in a Monty Python sense, but rather as an intellectual art form. He provides the true and natural curiosity of man, thereby providing the subtle earth tones to the pallette. My only regret is not seeing more of him.
Which brings us finally to Keanu Reeves. Make no mistake, this film is not about Keanu Reeves. His portrayal of Klaatu is the mirror to the pallette of all the other actors. He is portraying the observer, not the player. Even Gort (as a CGI character) can grab your attention faster. And therein lies the point. Mr. Reeve’s performance is so subtle, one can’t help but be drawn into the story and begin to see ourselves through Klaatu’s eyes. And in truth, it ain’t pretty. This for some may be both sinister and cold. However, re-discovering the compelling and complex virtues of humanity gives us hope for the future. One can’t help but wonder how difficult this may have been for Mr Reeves - to literally blank out all emotion in all physically expressive ways, then to imprint or mimic emotions. You can literally see the thought process working as each emotion expressed by the other actors, he absorbs. Though quite often criticized for his performance, Mr. Reeves shows us an alien that is thoughtful, intelligent, and slightly disturbing. Not an easy task at all. This is a riveting performance filled with physical grace (“this body will take some getting used to”) and a thought provoking understanding (“there is another side to you, I can see that now”) of humanity.
Scott Derrickson as a director has taken a classic film and given it new life, new science (bio nanites) and a new message. Every attention is made to give credibility and substance to a film at a time when superficiality and materialism have become the mantra for new generation. We have a choice to make: whether we choose to live in a state of paranoia and conspiracy hiding behind a superficial, disposable society; or, to embrace a new future that harmonizes the balance and respects all species of the planet and each other. Whether it be in 2012(the end of the Mayan calendar), 2046 (the possibility of a strike by the meteor Aphois) or by our own hand make no mistake the clock is ticking. Remember this if nothing else, “If the earth dies you die, if you die the earth survives”. Maybe it is a day to stand still. Someone or something may be listening.
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