We are introduced to a bearded Keanu Reeves sitting in his tent atop a mountain dated 1923. We don’t know who he is, what he’s doing there and what his purpose is. Then suddenly a strange light flashes from a distance prompting him to investigate. Fast forward to present date, all notable scientists are whisked away to a center to be briefed of the impact the world is about to suffer. The President and the Vice President are stashed to two separate secret locations and Madam Secretary of Defense is out to fight in their steed. The end is at hand, or is it?
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a mouthful for a title and a handful to rearrange from its original 1951 film. Although I know little of the first version, I feel that this new-fangled adaptation came to a tepid halt. Yes, it provided the entertainment value one hopes to achieve in watching movies and it allows us to appreciate Jaden Smith’s aspirations to be as big as his dad. Yet, it lacked the value Independence Day and Armageddon offered. Disaster movies are supposed to have a heightened alarm attached to it, that it encompass not just the famous metropolitans. In the impending death of the human race aren’t we all supposed to be in the game?
In TDTESS, it carried out the exact same mistake The Day After Tomorrow and Cloverfield committed. There was only one central power (USA) slugging it out with the enemy and no compartmentalized representation of other human inhabitants was allowed. It just showed snapshots of the world but it did not drive a single thread of story. There really is no need for a convoluted approach (remember the Russian guy in the station where the shuttle in Armageddon had to refuel, or the Middle Eastern people in Transformers or the nations that came together at the Battle of Helms Deep in Lord of the Rings), just a modest illustration that in the event of an invasion, WE as a human race will move as one.
And one more thing, why does all turning point have to happen in the US soil? Why can it not happen elsewhere?
Also, I felt that the movie tried to show more than one plotline but failed when a change was unconvincingly executed. Klaatu with all its stoic prowess failed to justify his beliefs in humans toward the end. Vindicated by his demise to save human race, it was too low a jump off from simply watching mother and child crying under a bridge in central park.
I recognize the strength special effects provided here but I’m not impressed – I’ve seen the swarm approach before in The Lord of the Rings The Return Of The King. I’m also not too keen the way the camera was handled. At times it was too shaky even for static shots (ex. the time when Jennifer Connolly is asking Keanu Reeves who he was before he became human).
But I have some nice things to say too. I especially commend the casting of John Cleese, for a moment it doused us of the routine Connelly and Reeves are trying to achieve. Also I like the giant Iron Man/ Cyclopes, his faceless ability to communicate as an indestructible ticking bomb was intense.
When credits role, you don’t say that this movie is bad. Instead you’ll wish that even if we have all the magic technology can offer, they don’t disregard the storyline, buildup and turning points.