The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
I’d like to propose a scientific experiment. I want a university to put this movie on a loop and run it for some nice white lab rats, smart ones that can run a maze really well. My hypothesis is that the sheer stupidity of this movie will cause the rats’ IQs to exponentially drop. Boy howdy, they don’t come any dumber than this bucket of drek.
First off, for a film about first contact between humans and aliens that doesn’t involve anal probing, there is absolutely no sense of wonder on the part of anyone - scientist, layman, or child. Discovering running shoes half off at Target leaves one feeling more elated than what the entire cast showed in this movie. (I think Keanu Reeves bland, emotionless, alien Klaatu rubbed off on the rest of the cast and crew.)
When this GIANT sphere/spaceship blazes through the cosmos and touches down in NYC, we get the standard send in the military scenes, with lots of foot soldiers and their M-16s mixed in with tanks and helicopters. Umm, according to my calendar this is 2009, not 1959. This isn’t a Godzilla movie. Why would you have these Army soldiers surrounding this thing all pointing their little guns at it (just so one of them can get trigger happy and shoot the nice alien man as makes his entrance)? I'm so tired of the movies showing the military as basically a bunch of trigger happy goons. Read a Tom Clancy novel for gosh sakes.
Klaatu has come to earth as a representative of a galactic United Nations with the message that as we’re on a course to destroy our planet environmentally (instead of with nukes as in the 1950s original film) he is here to tell mankind to turn out the lights as our time is over. Jennifer Connelly basically plays the same scientist role (what university produces uber-hottie scientist chicks?) she played in the movie Hulk, but instead of being the love interest, here she gets to share screen time with the super-annoying Jaden Smith as her step-son. Yes, Will Smith’s boy. (Several times in this movie he should have been spanked, or at least given a time out. Little bastard.) Jon Hamm (famous for his “Jon Hamm’s John Ham” SNL sketch) is given the thankless role as a friend of Connelly. Kathy Bates has a stick up her butt as the Secretary of Defense (she says as far as she's concerned Klaatu is U.S. Gov't property. WTF?).
When I say this movie is dumb, I mean this movie is D-U-M-B. It is chock full of “why are they doing THAT?” moments. Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith aid Keanu, and at one point they are running from the military in the woods. A solider rappels down, snags Connelly and hoists her up to the chopper, leaving not only Keanu behind, but her young son too. Why did they do that? I guess because they wanted a quick “where do we stand” scene with Connelly and Kathy Bates and that was the only way to accomplish it. One moment they want Klaatu alive, the next moment they try to kill him. Why? Because they needed to show some explosions involving the very obviously CGI helicopters. The Army moves the giant robot GORT to an underground facility which has a control room with big glass windows so they stare GORT right in his visor – the same visor they know shoots deadly lasers! (Tip: lasers can go THROUGH glass!) WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?
The worst thing is that the filmmakers didn’t pay attention to their own damn story. Jennifer Connelly and a few others keep pleading with Klaatu that humankind can change their bad ways and evolve. They never say HOW. Over and over they say, “We can change.” During the course of the story Keanu sees Jaden Smith weep over the grave of his father. Later Connelly offers up her life for her step-son’s (“take me and save him”). These two acts convince Keanu that we can change and he stops the destruction of mankind. HOW are those two acts representative of mankinds ability to change? They aren’t. If the movie had done the classic Star Trek thing with Klaatu arguing humans are too barbaric and selfish to be at the top of the earth’s food chain, then when he sees these acts of tenderness and selflessness he changes his mind that would have made sense. Not this “we can change, we can evolve” nonsense, then show something else entirely.