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The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Day The Earth Stood Still: 7/10 Stars
Release Date: December 12, 2008
Content Advisory: Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence. Surprisingly tame content for a movie of this genre. Several explosions and frantic chases on foot. An alien-type creature is dissected and cut into, and we see him shedding gross looking gooey skin. Two people are splattered with blood.
While walking into the theater for The Day The Earth Stood Still, I was expecting something along the lines of "Independence Day." In essence: A mindless yet entertaining ride about aliens taking over Earth and the humans joining together to fight them off. What did I get? Well, for one thing, it was far from the lines of "Independence Day," even if its plot did involve aliens.
The Day The Earth Stood Still will probably end up being one of the hardest reviews I have ever written. I still am thinking about this movie, not because it was thought-provoking, but more because it was so... weird. So unlike what I thought it would be. It contained something I still can't grasp my head around, and it's driving me insane. This movie, though it may sound similar to, per say, "War of the Worlds" or "Independence Day," has a completely different outcome. It starts off rather outrageously to the point of near-laughter.
After the rather corny opening, however, it takes a moodier and eerier tone, as the alien and newly-found friend, Dr. Benson, must run from the authorities while Dr. Benson tries to find a way to convince the alien, named Klaatu, that their planet does not deserve to die. In the end, The Day the Earth Stood Still never seems to live up to its shock-and-awe trailer. Right as you're expecting a big bang, it suddenly stops and so on. Several parts certainly had me entertained, but by the time the end credits were reached, it ended up being more weird and unconvincing than stylish and thrilling.
When Dr. Benson (played smoothly by Jennifer Connelly) is forcefully taken from her home to a group of other scientists and teachers, she soon learns that a supposed meteor-type object is headed straight towards Earth and aimed to hit and wipe out of Manhattan. Of course, as they soon find out, it lands right in the middle of the Manhattan, yet surprisingly doesn't kill too many, and, as you probably already know... it isn't any meteor. It's similar to a glowing orb of sorts, with both a giant sized robot inside and one lone alien almost to the point of death. The dying alien is taken to a lab where it is dissected and brought back to health, while the giant-sized robot wreaks havoc in the city until it is finally captured and brought to another lab to check out.
Finds out, the alien (played stoically and unemotionally by Keanu Reeves) is actually an alien in the body of human, come with a message for all humans: due to their violent nature, it is time for the whole human population to be wiped out to save the Earth's resources. Well, as it would be with any sane being, this just doesn't suit Dr. Benson. Helping the alien, named Klaatu, escape, they trek across the state, running from the authorities, while Dr. Benson tries to convince Klaatu that human beings actually do have a soft side and can change. The visuals are impressive throughout, with nicely constructed robots, glowing orbs, and explosions. The acting is also decent, especially from Jenniffer Connelly and her son, Jacob. Keanu Reeves, though his character is supposed to be stoic, may overdo it a little bit too much, as he doesn't smile once throughout the whole film. I've never found his acting too impressive, but I definetely know he could've done better.
However, it wasn't his performance that lost me. It was the plot. The plot may seem easy enough to get and may actually seem somewhat interesting, and let me tell you this right now: this movie sure as heck is interesting. It's just... weird. It contains a certain element that is impossible to grasp. I'm still trying to figure it out. Whatever it is, something in the movie is just... eerie, mysterious, and downright odd. The whole way through, you're thinking, "What the heck? This is so... different than what I expected." Maybe it was the creepy and eerie atmosphere. Maybe it was just me. Whatever it was, I can officially qualify this film as the oddest one I have ever seen.
Of course, that wasn't its only problem. The plot never actually seemed to get to the "big bang" point we were thinking was coming after viewing the trailer. The director is able to incorporate some nice action sequences throughout it, but in the end, it still leaves you feeling somewhat disappointed. The story builds and builds and builds and then... ends. The climax is definetely suspenseful and exciting, but the BANG! that we were all expecting is nowhere to be seen. This film is set up to be another "War Of The Worlds" or "Independence Day," when really... it isn't. Its trailer may be the most deceiving one this year.
Of course, I'm not saying that that's a bad thing. It's just, this film is nowhere near your normal "aliens come to earth, humans kill aliens" flick. It most certainly is a popcorn flick that you just may well enjoy a good bit, and it leaves you with much to think about in the end, but it's still far from perfect. Besides just being downright weird, its plot could've been so much stronger. I guess you'll just have to see it for yourself to decide, but right now, I will leave you with this: fans looking for another "Independence Day" or "War Of The Worlds" will be thoroughly disappointed. For those of you who don't fall into that category... you will have to see it for yourself. No one's review will be able to explain this strange film's weirdness if you haven't seen it. It's odd, unique, (at times) exciting, yet most definetely imperfect. For once, I will say this: you're the judge.