Monday, December 7, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) Remake

I watched the remake of the great movie The Day The Earth Stood Still yesterday. Of course I didn't think it would be as good, but I tried not to be too prejudice and instead try to enjoy it on it own terms, as if I hadn't already seen the original. It is of course hard to do and I ended up comparing in the end anyway.

On its own terms: A decent movie and the plot is still interesting. Actors are ok but the characters less so. If we start out with Keanu Reeves Klaatu I could see the reason they chose that stone faced actor because they might have wanted Klaatu to act unnatural and inhuman. In that sense Keanu Reeves actually works pretty well in the role. The kid, played by Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) is actually doing a good job, but with a really annoying character. I don't think there was any scene where I didn't want to slap the kid over the head because of something he did or said. Not so much poor Jadens fault, as the script writers of course who can't throw in a kid without letting him be the bastard of the movie. Bastard as in annoying and stupid. Did I mention annoying? Anyway... Jennifer Connelys character is played well although she too plays an unbelieveable part. Actually the whole thing about the military rounding up civilian science experts because they don't understand jack of what's going on seems strange to me. I am quite sure the US-military and its astronomical budget has fit in their own team of science-people and don't need to semi-kidnap their own citizens. It also seems like a really bad way to keep something a secret. Gort has become a larger role in this movie but is still as untalkative and unempathic as any machine. He works though. John Cleeses role should've been larger because he was probably the most interesting character of the movie. Also the intro to the movie was meaningless, and should have been left out.

I have to admit there were some parts where I thought I should just turn it off and go do something else, so it wasn't extremely bad, but not very entertaining either.

In comparison: I'm not one of them people who thinks a movie based on something (be it another movie or whatever) must be faithful to the original. Of course some aspects have to stay or it wouldn't be based on it, but the most important thing is that it works on screen. The changes Peter Jackson did to The Lord of The Rings were ok for instance, and I also think Resident Evil (the first movie anyway) is a good adaptation of the game to a movie.
Therefor I don't necessarily think changing something from one movie to it's remake has to be a bad thing. But it will be a bad thing if they change something good into something bad. The remake had of course work around the problem that information is instant and hard to hide these days. Where the original Klaatu without trouble could walk around on the streets unrecognized this could be a problem for a more modern Klaatu, where anyone can film anyone and spread the information rapidly to all over the world. The original focuses on Klaatus interest in humans and the way they think, the remake doesn't seem to focus on anything at all. Keanus Klaatu seems completely uninterested in the world he's landed on and doesn't show a single emotion, whereas the original Klaatu (played my Michael Rennie) is highly sympathetic. Every scene, move and word means something in the original and heightens the plot. In the remake it feels like the movie want's something new with every scene, and none of it excites. Moral? Action? Drama?

I've already mentioned that some characters have been changed from something interesting into something boring, Bobby being the biggest victim. Barnhardt is actually more interesting in the remake but gets so little space that nothing ever comes of it. Some awesome scenes have been reduces to ashes, like the one where all the electricity goes off. In the original it is a planned act of demonstrating power, in the remake just something that happens without explanation (one assumes it's the aliens work but no explanation to why they would do something like that. None I can remember anyway, which is bad enough).

The remake biggest flaw is that it isn't memorable. It's just another action/drama/conflict/alien/endoftheworld movie but doesn't leave any marks. My tip would be, watch the original again instead of the remake.

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