I finally got out to see The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. I made sure to see it in IMAX because from what I could tell from the preview footage, the special effects are amazing and would definitely be heightened by the IMAX experience.
I’m a big fan of the original 1951 film by director Robert Wise and not so keen on remakes, which is why I wasn’t running out to see this movie when it was released in early December. The story centers on Klaatu, an alien who comes to Earth wanting to speak to its leaders about their destructive behavior. In the original, made during the Cold War, Klaatu warns that unless the human race ceases its warmongering, they will be destroyed. In the remake, Klaatu also threatens the extinction of the human race, but because humanity has been deemed a threat to the Earth itself.
As far as the special effects and aesthetics go, this film from director Scott Derrickson does not disappoint. Klaatu’s glowing spherical spaceship landing in Central Park is such a sight to behold that I’m willing to let it go that people — including a woman with a baby stroller! — are just standing there watching it land … and then have to run for the damn lives.
But how does the film hold up beyond the special effects? Well, like I mentioned, I don’t really go for remakes, but I do understand the need to “update” storylines for modern audiences when a remake is done. So, the whole environmental aspect of it was expected. To be honest, the story really captured my attention, because I thought it was going in a certain direction, which it turned out NOT to be going in. About two-thirds of the way in, I thought, “Wow, they’re really pulling this off,” then we got to the end. WTF? In my opinion, it totally ruined the movie.
With that, here’s 13 moments from The Day The Earth Stood Still remake that made me say “What The Fuck?”
Warning — MAJOR SPOILERS
Klaatu Gets His Ass Shot: It’s revealed that a group of alien races has been watching the people of Earth for nearly a century, and know everything about the ways of humanity. They can clone a human body to send their representative — Klaatu — to Earth; they know our languages; they know how we survive (food, water, etc.), and they were able to decipher and break through our military defense systems. So why doesn’t Klaatu know that if you break through said defense systems, invade our air space, and land your damn ship in one of most populated cities in the world, you gonna get your ass shot?
Take Me To Your Leader: While Klaatu is recuperating from his bullet-wound, government agents attempt to get him to explain his intentions. (And might I add that these agents seem pretty friggin’ lenient? I think they were harder on Indiana Jones in Crystal Skull). All Klaatu will really say is that he wants to speak to the world leaders at the United Nations. So, it’s decided that Klaatu will undergo “interrogation,” which the scientists all strongly oppose. Meanwhile, this seemingly immoral practice is just a fucking lie detector test!!! Granted, they planned to use a drug to get Klaatu to talk, but still, they didn’t take him to Guantanamo Bay! And seriously, some alien lands in the middle of Central Park and doesn’t feel like spilling the beans, I have no problem with aggressive questioning.
The Useless Scientists: When the U.S. government realizes that an object is about to impact with the Earth, they gather a bunch of scientists and engineers, who then have less than two hours to do something about the situation. Once they’re briefed — one of whom is Jennifer Connelly’s astrobiologist Dr. Helen Benson — we don’t see them do a damn thing. Next we see them bracing for the impact of the object, which ends up being Klaatu’s ship that doesn’t crash, but gracefully lands in Central Park in New York City. Let’s face it, if this was an Armageddon-type movie, those scientists would have figured out how to stop/impede/slow down/avoid the object’s impact and then Will Smith or Ben Affleck would have implemented the solution. In this movie, they just wasted all that time with the scientists in order to get Helen to meet Klaatu.
The Escaped Convict: For some reason, Helen feels a connection to Klaatu and is able to help him escape. Once he’s on the loose, a warning is sent out on all news stations with Klaatu’s picture stating that he’s an escaped convict who’s considered to be very dangerous. They do this in an effort to NOT cause worldwide panic — umm… allow me to remind you at this time that the entire damn world already KNOWS a damn spaceship has landed in Central Park AND that miniature spaceship orbs have landed in places throughout the world. The damn footage is already on YouTube! How the hell could warning the public that hey, THIS GUY IS THE ALIEN be a problem? Would anyone really give a damn that an escaped convict is on the run when AN ALIEN has just landed?
In Federal Custody: So, we know the the gov’t takes Helen from her home without explanation, saying only that she’s “in Federal custody now.” She’s then briefed on the alien situation, gets to see and speak to Klaatu, and is even given a sample of the placenta-like substance that Klaatu sheds after he’s shot; she was also privy to the fact that Klaatu was to be interrogated and was even the one to give him the injection (and unbeknownst to anyone else, gave him a saline solution instead of the “truth serum” type drug). Yet, after Klaatu escapes custody, we next see Helen back at home with her young stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith). As if the government would have just let her go back home like nothing happened! NO WAY! Her ass would have been in “Federal custody” FOREVER.
Ample NYC Parking: Klaatu makes his way from the military facility in New Jersey to Grand Central Station in Manhattan, trying to get back to his ship. This guy has the power to walk on water and raise the dead (thank you, biblical nods), yet he has to take the train? Even more ridiculous is when Helen is called down to Grand Central to pick up Klaatu, she actually has a place to park!!! There’s no where to park in Manhattan on a good day, forget about on the day a spaceship lands.
Toxic Dump, New Jersey: OK, so now Helen has jeopardized herself by helping Klaatu escape, then goes and picks him up at the train station, then drives him to a forest in New Jersey, all the while not even knowing his intentions. Technically, every bad thing that happens after Klaatu’s escape is HER fault. Anyhow, Keanu Reeves has about 10 minutes’ worth of dialogue in the entire film, and after a lot of awkward silence and staring Klaatu finally reveals that he’s come to wipe out humanity, because humans are destroying the Earth and the Earth is too galactically valuable to be harmed by stupid humans. Ok, I’ll buy that. Helen immediately pleads, “We can change!” (yeah, how many times have we heard that?). What she should have done is explain that they were standing in the toxic waste dump that’s New Jersey and that, hey, lots of us recycle.
The Clever U.S. Secretary of Defense: The reason Klaatu has to go into the forests of New Jersey (where he walks on that water) we learn is to activate these mini Orbs which act as Arks, collecting various species to save when GORT’s “plague” is unleashed. Back at the military headquarters, you know, where all those scientists were detained to “help” with the situation but were then just let go, the agents and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) watch the movements of the Orbs. Luckily, those scientists weren’t really needed because Jackson of all the people there is able to figure out that the Orbs are actually Arks of biblical proportions.
Rioting, Stealing, and Looting … But We Can Change!: Several times, Helen pleads to Klaatu that humans can change their harmful ways to become better. Then, she takes Klaatu to see John Cleese’s Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Barnhardt, who tells Klaatu that civilizations always change their ways when they’re at a precipice, when their survival is threatened. Meanwhile, all you see in the film are people rioting and looting; even at Grand Central, Klaatu sees firsthand survival of the fittest in action. Also, throughout the film, Klaatu and his gigantic robot GORT are being shot at by the military and, at the end, when they’re almost at the spaceship, the President of the United States orders them to be bombed when they get near the ship. So, can you really blame Klaatu for thinking we’re a bunch of assholes?
GORT Gets A CT Scan: Let’s address the GORT situation: When Klaatu first arrives in his ship, we see a gigantic robot appear with him. The robot, which the gov’t later dubs GORT (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology), goes into attack mode when Klaatu is shot and we see the power of destruction that the robot is capable of. Klaatu basically tells the robot to stand down, but we later find out that the robot activates in the presence of violence. Somehow, the military is able to capture the robot and bring it to an underground testing facility, and we learn that they’ve run a battery of tests on it — including MRIs and CT Scans. HA HA HA!!!! This robot is HUGE. Seriously, as big as a skyscraper. Someone please tell me HOW in hell were they able to give this thing a damn MRI? C’mon now.
The Infamous Indestructible Cloverfield Bridge: I’m not sure it was really necessary for GORT to turn into millions of tiny locust-like metallic bugs which become the “plague” that wipes out humanity. But, the plague looks really awesome as we see it easily wipe out the entire Meadowlands Sports Complex in NJ (which contains Giants Stadium) in a matter of seconds. Eventually, the GORT plague rampages its way back to Central Park, where Klaatu, Helen, and Jacob are taking shelter from it underneath the infamous “Cloverfield bridge.” We see the bugs all around them, yet nothing is happening to that damn little bridge. Why isn’t the plague destroying the bridge too? Why does that bridge elude all attackers? Why is it the only indestructible landmark in NYC? Seriously, the Cloverfield monster was able to crush his way through Manhattan, yet when he got to that bridge … oh, duped!
A [Stupid] Reason To Save Humanity: Ok, so obviously, Klaatu has to change his mind about killing off humanity. Helen has pleaded with him, the kid has been cute with him, and the Nobel Prize winner bonded with him over an equation. But what is the reason that tips his decision in our favor? Does he see humans banding together in peace and harmony? Does everyone pledge to recycle? Nope. What does it is he sees how much Helen loves her stepson. Please excuse me when I say this, but so fucking what? There’s millions of people who love their relatives. And loving one another wasn’t really the issue that the alien conglomerate had, was it? It was the fact that humans were destroying the Earth with their damaging habits, so what does Helen and Jacob’s relationship have to do with anything!?!!
The Price: At the end of the film, we find out that while Klaatu can stop the GORT plague from finishing its mission, humanity will have to pay a price. We see ALL of the electricity being shut down throughout the world. One of the areas we see is a car manufacturing plant — there’s a friggin alien invasion and worldwide panic, yet they’re still making cars!?! I guess they’re really putting their Gov’t bailout loans to work, but who is buying a car right now? Shut it down! Anyhow, the “price” is apparently no more electricity or technology. So, the plague won’t kill ANY MORE people (cuz it’s already killed a shitload), but there won’t be anymore electricity or technology. Speaking as someone living in a first-world country, I can seriously say Klaatu should have let GORT just finish the job. Not only has GORT already wiped out large portions of a populated area, but now there won’t be any real way to repair the damage. And anyone living in a high-rise building — good luck; those of us who run a website — so much for that; anyone in a plane — crash, boom, dead; all those people in hospitals — dead; everyone who needs medications — dead. Yeah, you can argue that humans have evolved from cave dwellers, therefore, we’d know how to start over. But still, that’s gonna take a long-ass time; in the meanwhile, we’re all fucked.