Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Day the Earth Stood Still


Pretty much exactly what I expected: an overblown remake of a classic that should have been left alone. Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, the emotionless, expressionless alien. I’d say something about typecasting, but I’m sure every reviewer who touched this piece of crap has already made that joke, so I won’t. Gort the robot has spent the last 57 years pumping iron and shooting steroids, so he’s now about 50 feet tall. He apparently isn’t a New York football fan, as he morphs into a swarm of some sort of metal insects and devours Giants Stadium. (If you look closely, you can see Jimmy Hoffa’s corpse dissolving in the end zone.) I don’t recall much about Patricia Neal’s kid in the original, but I’m sure he was awful, as all kids in 1950s movies were awful. But he’d have to be pretty darn awful to be awfuler than the pain-in-the-ass crybaby kid in this one. I wanted to drop-kick him right into the Hudson River. Naturally, there is a “green” message about how we’re destroying the planet. In the original, Klaatu turned off the power globally for half an hour (the Earth stood still). In this one, the power is off at the end of the movie. Will it come back on? Does Klaatu want us to revert to the Stone Age? Do I give a shit?

Steroids is an overused metaphor—I’ve already used it once—but it really does describe all of these remakes of classic SF. If something impressed audiences back then, let’s do it 1000 times bigger. A flying saucer lands in Washington? Not enough: let’s make it a big sphere—let’s have thousands and thousands of those spheres. Ever since Close Encounter of the Third Kind, all alien spaceships are filled with glorious light, so let’s have thousands of times more lights. Gort was 8 feet tall? Let’s have him be 80 feet tall. Michael Rennie was something of a stiff? Who can we get who’s a thousand times stiffer than Michael Rennie … ah-hah! I have it!

They have done dozens of these things now, and I can’t think of a one that was better, or even as good. I can’t think of a single one that needed to be made at all.