NATICK, Mass. — “The Day The Earth Stood Still” would have been a fine movie if you had watched it on mute.
Everything was there visually. The cinematography, the CGI, the emotions and the acting were all as spot-on as they can be in a sci-fi movie that’s only goal is to be a sci-fi movie.
It was the script, written by David Scarpa, that fell flat. The story line didn’t make sense. An alien named Klaatu (Keanu Reaves) came to Earth to save it from the humans, who are killing it by what can only be assumed is global warming but is never explicitly stated.
Written by: David Scarpa
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connolly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates
Seen at: IMAX at the Jordan’s Furniture in Natick, Mass.
Running time: 103 minutes
Then, without any sense of change in the behavior of the humans – who are still trying to kill Klaatu up until the movie’s final moments – a teary-eyed Jennifer Connolly and her son (Jaden Smith) are enough to convince Klaatu that the Earth is worth saving, which he does.
End of spoiler warning.
The script could have nailed its point home so much more effectively, like “The Day After Tomorrow” did in 2004. Instead, it settled at being a decent visual adventure without a strong enough message to coat over the plot holes.
I have never seen the original 1951 version of “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” but after watching all the excitement at Comic-con over the film and whether or not the character Gort would be in the movie, I was a bit let down to discover that a character so apparently beloved by the original film’s fanbase had only one truly epic scene and spent the rest of the film held captive in a bunker.
Keanu Reeves did an expectedly good job playing the only role he knows how to. Instead of a stone-faced computer hacker turned savior like he played in “The Matrix” trilogy, here Reeves plays a stone-faced alien come to destroy the human race in order to save the Earth. His self-control and lack of emotion was perfect for the character of Klaatu, and was especially effective during the big interrogation sequence.
Jennifer Connolly did a great job as Helen Benson, an Astro-biologist picked to help figure out what the giant sphere heading towards Earth was (it ended up being Klaatu’s space ship). She fleshed out the role of an essentially flat character and made the movie as much about the relationship between a single step-mother with her step-son as it was about the end of the human race.
Jaden Smith continued his path to greatness that began with “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006 as Benson’s step-son, Jacob Benson. While his acting was all there, the plot fell flat on him as well when he goes from giving Klaatu up to the US government and wanting him killed in one scene and in the next, after Benson is captured by the Feds, whiningly asking Klaatu to take him home since he was all alone.
The movie is not a must-see, but anyone looking for a fun sci-fi film, go see “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” Anyone who won’t be annoyed by the fact the film tends to not make sense, go see it. Anyone who likes special effects more than plot and character development, by all means, go see it.
But as a film based on a film that was a warning to take better care of our planet, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” does not nail its message home. Anyone going to the movie theater to see a quality piece of film, take your money and go see something else.