9.11.2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still : 4 of 5

A few weeks ago I went with my pals Matt & Kumiko to Austin's Paramount Theater to see the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, one of the best classic science fiction films of all time. Since I missed this recent remake of the movie at the theater, I thought it would be nice to rent it while the original was fresh in my mind, and I really enjoyed it (and noticed several details that I wouldn't have picked out otherwise). The basic storyline is intact, but this version stretches things out as much as possible, even adding extra scenes such as a 1928 alien landing in order to gather human DNA. I really liked all of the tension surrounding the landing in Central Park, from the emergency gathering of scientists (with only 78 minutes to go!) to the cool lights of the sphere over Manhattan. Of course, Gort is involved in many more action scenes for a modern, effects-crazy audience, but thankfully still has his original minimalist design. Keanu Reeves is a convincing Klaatu (of course, he excels at dead-pan characters who never crack a single smile), who is born as a human to try to convince humanity to stop destroying Earth. Even though his role is small, John Cleese did a fantastic job in his role as the recluse scientist, and the chalkboard scene was an awesome nod to the original film. Although the remake takes some liberties with giving Klaatu extra powers and building up to an action-packed climax, I never found myself groaning or wishing it had been done differently, which is a good thing. The ending is a little abrupt and maybe even a bit open ended, but managed to recreate another classic plot point, so I was happy with it. Overall I had a great time enjoying this remake, but I would always recommend the original black & white film if you only have time to watch one!

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