The Day the Earth Stood Still
As in the original 1951 film by Robert Wise (and more or less ignoring Harry Batess original pulp short story Farewell to the Master), the arrival on Earth of a near-omnipotent being named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) is met with a trigger-happy response. Only the widowed Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) has faith that making friends with the alien might be in the best interests of humanity. But she may not be correct: Unlike Michael Rennies mostly benevolent Klaatu, version 2.0 is pissed at humanity for trashing the planet, and comes prepared to wipe us all out. The problem with this new The Day the Earth Stood Still isnt so much in the execution of director Scott Derrickson, who pulls off quite a few compelling sequences and, best of all, doesnt screw around too much with Klaatus giant robot Gort (at least until Gort suddenly turns into a cloud of tiny robot insects that arbitrarily eat whatever the plot calls for). No, the problem here is that there are no big ideas: The original Day was both a condemnation of Cold War military paranoia and an allegorical Christ tale, with Klaatu dying for our sins before being resurrected and ascending into the heavens, warning that hell be back with the apocalypse if humanity doesnt shape up. There are plenty of ways to bring similar themes into play here: Klaatu as Bush figure, perhaps, invading because of our weapons of mass destruction? Instead, its never clear quite what his problem is.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.