Incidentally pulling off the notion of ‘disaster’ movie in more ways than one, unfortunately, Scott Derrickson’s The Day The Earth Stood Still remake is more focused on recycling hackneyed self-serious, generic sci-fi gimmicks than plugging into those real deal collective human fears that tend to generate the most effective audience terror. A too sedentary to be scary reimagining of the 1951 Robert Wise space alien invasion sci-fi classic, this all dread and little action knockoff could be alternately titled The Day The Movie Stood Still.
Trading in the original brink of nuclear horror doomsday freakout for a merely intimated ecological annihilation scenario for which this rather cowardly extravaganza lacks the courage of an iota of conviction, the leaden tale finds suspect alien cross-dresser pretend human Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. He’s a smug troublemaker arriving on the planet to kick ass in high style and do a flashy hostile takeover, with cartoonish too tall tin man sidekick Gort doing the robot version of the secret service thing. Meanwhile, kindly fretting biologist Helen (Jennifer Connelly) with her stepson Jacob in tow (Jaden Smith, dragged through yet another movie by a desperate human), is on a mission to soothe the savage interplanetary beast, with a little help from Johann Sebastian Bach, I kid you not.
Kathy Bates does her best in a thankless role as Secretary Of Denfense, but hey, you’re no cranky Donald Rumsfeld, let alone Bob Gates. At the same time, befuddled space mavens who are hardly rocket scientists, scatter hither and thither to avert ho hum disaster.
While all those really scary vintage sci-fi thrillers tapped into mass national paranoia and had something to scream about, however founded or unfounded, like communist competition for the planet and nuclear war, this new and not improved Day The Earth Stood Still’s source of greatest failure seems to be their biggest fear, losing at the box office.
Twentieth Century Fox
1 1/2 stars