Sunday, December 14, 2008

Michael Rennie Was Ill

Like everyone else, I develop prejudices and preconceived notions about pretty much everything. I like to think that I am able to rise above those and apply impassioned reason and scientific principles when actually encountering the subject of said prejudices and notions and make final judgments based on data I receive from those encounters. However, there are times when I'm not sure of the extent to which preconceived notions influenced my conclusions and this is the problem I'm having with The Day The Earth Stood Still. I've been dead set against this remake of one of my all time favorite movies ever since I heard about it months ago. I could not accept the idea that maybe, just maybe, it may turn out to be a decent movie what with Keanu Reeves taking over for Michael Rennie and special effects taking over for intelligent film making. I pretty much had the review written before I bought the ticket and it would have gone something like this:
To call the remake of Day The Earth Stood Still a piece of crap is an insult to crap. Everyone and anyone even remotely involved with its production should be chained to a rock and have some sort of chemical applied to their skin that makes dogs want to piss on them.

And that would have been it. No other words would have been required. However, I find that I can't write that. It's not that I think The Day The Earth Stood Still is good, mind you. I just don't think it's as bad as I thought it was going to be. This brings me back to paragraph one. Could any movie have been as bad as I thought DTESS would be? The answer to that is a resounding HELLS YEAH! Watch Bloodrayne or Troll 2 sometime if you don't believe me. I'm wondering if my expectations were lowered so much by the idea that it would be the worst movie ever that I ended up thinking it was better than it was since I found it to be, well, not good, but a mixture of sometimes mildly entertaining/sometimes rock stupid but nowhere near the abomination I was expecting.

Once again, the Earth is visited by the alien Klaatu. You know this is fiction because he just plops his ship down in a public spot and reveals himself to the world the second he lands whereas real aliens only land in swamps and remote mountain locations to kidnap people, probe their anuses and wipe their memories.* This time around, instead of saying, "You all should be nicer to each other," Klaatu's message to the Earth is, "Stop destroying the environment in which the furry, woodland creatures live." The philosophy of his race is that, since there are so few planets capable of supporting life, humanity has no right to pollute the planet to the extent that all life is threatened. Well, yeah, I agree with that. We shouldn't take the Earth and turn it into a toxic hellhole where even a microbe would be unable to exist and I think it's brave of me to say that considering the power of the Pro-Obliterate-All-Life-On-Earth lobby. What the makers of this movie don't seem to understand is that, unless we replace our current pollutants with some sort of super toxic Death-gel, life will go on. Oh, yes, many species would die if the worst of our environmental fears came true including, most likely, humans, but life would go on. Some species would be naturally selected to survive, evolve and adapt to the new environment. Such concepts, of course, are a little too much for a big Hollywood event film to comprehend whish is why they haven't occured to Klaatu's race so, in the same way that Michael Rennie came to us in the 50s to say, "Be peaceful or we'll kill you," Keanu Reeves has arrived to say, "Live in harmony with the Earth or we'll turn you into mulch."

At least, that's the message he tries to deliver when he lands his big, gooey looking sphere in New York's Central Park. His intention was to meet with the members of the United Nations to deliver his "Change Or Die" message. This plan hits a snag when a trigger happy soldier shoots him the moment he exits his ship. To make up for nearly killing him, the U.S. government detains him and tries to interrogate him with truth drugs. All this pretty much sets Klaatu's mind on the "Die" option and he prepares to have the robot Gort (who has grown from seven feet in 1951 to about three stories tall today) unleash a big black cloud of death on the world.

The one chance humanity has is Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) an astro-biologist, whatever the hell that is, who is assigned to the scientific team that examines Klaatu. She gains his trust when she helps him escape from federal custody and they go on a road trip so Klaatu can get all of his pre-Destroy The Planet chores done along with Helen's step son, Jacob (Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith). Helen figures that Klaatu will change his mind if he meets with her old colleague Professor Barnhardt, played by John Cleese. I don't know what sort of magical persuasion powers Barnhardt is supposed to have but, frankly, I could have come up with the arguments that he did though I couldn't have said with the same gravitas as the man who once screamed, "THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!" did.

What I liked about DTESS: Keanu Reeves was better than I expected him to be; Jennifer Connelly's always good; some of the special effects were neat. What I didn't like about DTESS: everything else. One big thing was that they should have done more with the robot than they did. Gort is usually the first thing people remember when you mention the 1951 original but, in this one, you could have written him out of the whole story and not affected the movie all that much.

Still, it was better than I thought it would be so I'll give DTESS a few points for that in this great game we call Life. Anyway, this Friday, Jim Carrey's new comedy Yes Man is coming out. Aw man, is that ever gonna suck...damn, did it again.

*Take a screenshot of that paragraph since the guys at Area 51 will probably make me delete it.

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