Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still (yesterday, on TV, at 8pm)

I missed the first eleven minutes of this remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still", because I was watching an absolutely gripping bit of political theatre.... and perhaps if I had seen the very beginning, I might have enjoyed the movie more.

How is a debate a "debate", if people vote from remote locations without any solemn or otherwise obligation to listen to, and weigh, the arguments for and against the motion? I hope the Jury Trial system never goes the way of the Senate!

My husband tells me that I am in for a real treat when I see the original movie.  He rates the original a 10, and this version a 3.

Reviewers are kinder here

I give kudos to John Cleese for his endearing and totally charming performance as a true world leader, a Nobel prizewinner who keeps a blackboard and chalk in his living room.

The other fine supporting performance was by Jaden Smith as the bigoted little boy who probably did more than his stepmother to convince the unsmiling alien that mankind was worth saving.

The blubber premise grossed me out, frankly. I won't say more even though I don't consider it a major spoiler... unlike the idea of carrying a bit of ones own blubber/placenta around with one in a little jar in case of accidents, and even smearing some of it inside an inconvenient policeman's mouth.

Major spoiler:

That the explosion-proof, diamond-bit drill-busting robot turned into bifurcating cockroaches and ants bothered me. That they flew around in a cloud reminiscent of starling flock formations (currently on display in the Artology exhibition at the Cranbrook Institute of Science) was cool. I could have wished that they'd focused on eating something more to the point than one big truck and a few roadsigns.

If mankind is going to radically modify its alleged, environmentally destructive behaviour, a few missing truckers and roadsigns won't impress an out-of-touch President in his bunker. Those metal munching cockroaches ought to have eaten all the airports, and all the ships, and all the world's nuclear reactors. And the tree cutters and earth movers and shakers, such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Hewlett Packard, Google, and Goodyear... (You can't run a mine without rubber, apparently).

How the world has changed since this movie was made, by the way.

However the physics of mass confused and upset me the most. It always does. It's my pet peeve with science fiction. In fact, the cockroach size issue was my biggest hurdle... my wall-banger moment. It surely could, and should have been photographed with more care and sensitivity.

Oh, and there was another issue of mass. Keanu Reeves asked an apparently smaller man what size that man's clothes were. He then asked the man to undress. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to see this feat. Moments later, the tall Keanu left the room in a perfectly tailored, exquisitely well fitted suit.

Continuity is ok. But, what was Keanu going to wear if he did not take the man's clothes, no matter what size they were? Ask a silly question!

Bottom line, though. I'd have given The Day The Earth Stood Still (Remake) an extra two points at least if they'd shown that particular logistical detail. My philosophy when telling a fantastic story is to show everything that is --or could be-- plausible.


  1. I haven't seen the remake yet, and honestly, it's on the bottom of my "drunken sci-fi" viewing list (movies porentially so bad they can only be watched after a 72hr study session or while under the influence)... The original though. Ah, the original. It remains one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time. You get nods to it everywhere. "The Iron Giant" and "Army of Darkness" are the first two that spring to mind, but there are many many more. Some of these reboots work very well (see Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, even "I, Robot" and "War of the Worlds" had their moments) but others... others lose that spark that made the original so memorable. I will be curious to compare the two!


  2. Thank you for commenting, Kimberly.

    One remake that I did thoroughly enjoy was Mike Hodges' version of Flash Gordon, made in the 80s and starring all sorts of wonderful people including Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton, half the Department S gang including Peter Wyngarde...

    Heather Massey on The Galaxy Express has a discussion about some of her favorites.



  3. There are characters, and then there are roles.

    A "character" has to be played by a certain actor, or it just doesn't "work" -- for decades, Spock was in that category. The new ST film, playing to a whole new audience, many of whom never saw the Original Series, may have broken "Spock" out into a ROLE.

    I agree about THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL original - it's my kind of romance, and I suspect I've been subconsciously writing that movie over and over in many of my novels.

    But an example of a ROLE that propagates down the generations is Sherlock Holmes.

    I never thought, when I first saw Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, that he'd win me over.

    He did. But he died in 1995, alas.

    Then there's The Doctor in Dr. Who. They change the actor, and the story, and the rest of the cast, and still it goes on.

    What do you call a plot that becomes a like a role, immortal?

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg