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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

5 reasons I’m psyched for ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’

All this weekend! 5 movies I’m psyched for in December and 5 reasons why. No. 2: The Day the Earth Stood Still [opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on December 12].
1. I’m feeling kinda starved for grownup science fiction lately. There’s been a few films this year that are arguably SF: Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, but they’ve got more of a superhero vibe; CJ7 and The Signal, but they weren’t particularly great; Journey to the Center of the Earth, but that’s for little kids; and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull turned out to be science fiction in the end. But as movies with science-fictional conceits go, we’re left with The X-Files: I Want to Believe, which is only very thinly SFnal; Cloverfield, which extremely well done but didn’t explore any new ideas; and Wall-E, which was wonderful and original. So I’m ready for anything really original, and this seems to be the only movie I can pin such hopes on.

2. Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. Honestly, when I heard it was him playing the enigmatic alien, I thought: Perfect.

3. John Cleese is in this, in the apparently not-comedic role of “Professor Barnhardt.” Maybe he invented a funny walk to defeat the aliens?

4. Director Scott Derrickson last film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, was a far more thoughtful and considered approach to a subgenre — the possessed-by-Satan horror movie — than we typically see. So I’m hoping that bodes well for this film, and that we’ll get a far more thoughtful and considered alien-invasion movie.

5. There’s that line, in the TV commercial, where Kathy Bates says something like, “What do you want with our planet?” And Keanu Reeves replies, half mystified and half peeved, “Your planet?” I’d like to think, because of the global-warming, heal-the-planet theme, that that’s gonna resolve into a Native American concept of eschewing the idea of ownership of the Earth, not into a “the aliens have been here for millions of years and consider this their planet.”



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  • Patrick

    Ah, MaryAnn, you overlook the greatest reason one should be psyched–

    Last week Fox Home Video release a new edition of the 1951 original with a high definition transfer! It’s on DVD and Blu-Ray (for you Blu-Ray folks).

    Fantastic!

  • Hdj

    I got one good reason why I’m psyched , there ain’t nothing else good out. I dissed this during the summer but that was when I didn’t realize there wasn’t jack squat coming out.

  • blake

    “I got one good reason why I’m psyched , there ain’t nothing else good out. ”

    Totally.

  • Jason

    My No.1 reason: Jennifer Conelley (sp?). Okay, I have a bizarre man-crush on her but all that aside, I really enjoy a good Earth Gets Trashed And Society Crumbles Or Might Crumble movie. I also really like Keanu Reeves movies for some reason. Constantine rocked,I don’t even have to mention The Matrix. I even wasn’t entirely disappointed in The Lake House though it had a heightened chick-flick factor (I also like time travel type movies, Donnie Darko set the bar for me). Then there was Chain Reaction which wasn’t horrible (mostly because it had Rachel Weiz, my other man-crush recipient) but I digress….

    Oh, by the way Wall-E rocked! My wife absolutely loved that movie, and I usually have a hard time getting her to indulge in anything sci-fi related (though she is usually on board with the super hero movies). She did like I Am Legend, but did not care for Cloverfield. She liked the concept and the monster, but could not get past the girl getting scewered with rebar and running around mostly fine within 10 minutes of said rebar removal, and she could not get over the other girl not putting on sensible shoes when all hell broke loose. I did point out that Shoe Girl did end up with more sensible shoes after the rebar girl rescue, though the change-over was never shown. Whatever, it was a monster movie, why is the monster more believable than if a girl can run around in inapropriate footwear. Woman logic… :).

  • Jolly

    I’d like to think, because of the global-warming, heal-the-planet theme, that that’s gonna resolve into a Native American concept of eschewing the idea of ownership of the Earth, not into a “the aliens have been here for millions of years and consider this their planet.”

    Is this another one of those “let’s pretend that Chief Seattle said the lines that Ted Perry wrote for him in the 1970s” sentiments?

  • I even wasn’t entirely disappointed in The Lake House though it had a heightened chick-flick factor

    This is still my reigning guilty-pleasure-to-watch movie. :)

    (It used to be Top Gun, but then Tom Cruise went all insane.)

  • John

    Jason, I believe you’re misusing the term ‘man-crush’. A man-crush is where a guy has a ‘crush’ on another guy, but without the sexual attraction. Kind of like an idol worship thing. What you have are two standard (and perfectly understandable, as I share them too!) crushes. :)

    Unless you’re implying that there are things I don’t know about Jennifer Connolly and Rachel Weisz… :O

  • Jester

    Your only hope of originality is from yet another remake? I kid, I kid… ;-)

  • Jolly

    Remake ain’t the problem. Star Trek made the trope of being judged by superior aliens tired by the time the 60s were over. ‘Cept for one episode of the Twilight Zone remake in the 1980s which added a nice twist. Why can’t secular people needing recourse to a higher power just find God, rather than aliens that conveniently share their world-view?

  • Deanne Dyer

    Why can’t secular people needing recourse to a higher power just find God, rather than aliens that conveniently share their world-view?

    It’s because God doesn’t exist but maybe aliens do. ;)

    Anyway I’ve never met a religious person whose god doesn’t conveniently share his or her worldview. Funny how that works. I’ll take Klaatu over a religious higher power any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  • Why can’t secular people needing recourse to a higher power just find God, rather than aliens that conveniently share their world-view?

    This is a joke right?

  • JoshDM

    6. There’s that other line we are patiently waiting for Keanu Reeves to proclaim, “Yes way, Gort!”

  • Jolly

    Anyway I’ve never met a religious person whose god doesn’t conveniently share his or her worldview.

    No doubt. The Ted Perry/Chief Seattle episode is a fine example of environmentalists finding a Native American in the 1850s that conveniently shared their world view. Problem is that the speech that is often cited by Al Gore and others was actually written by Ted Perry in the 1970s, and is only loosely based on the official(*) speech. An excerpt from the Perry version:

    “How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? That idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?”

    (*) The status of the “official” is disputed as well.

  • Kate

    Jason,

    The shoe thing drove me and my friend crazy in “Cloverfield,” as well! I liked the movie but, honestly, that part was a total distraction, no joke! Any woman in that situation would take the first opportunity to change into more comfy shoes, say in the store they were in? Or the apartment of the girl they went to rescue?

    Just so your wife doesn’t think she is the only one!

  • i hate the stupid shoe thing too — in any movie. it would be like a guy getting pulled out of the shower in the midst of all this chaos and not putting on his pants! i’m sorry, but no man would run around naked through the whole movie — he’d find the first opportunity to pull on sweatpants and a t-shirt at least (hey! that could be a humourous moment in an otherwise horrifying movie — the guy looks for a sweatshirt but it has to be of his favorite team!).

  • hdj

    From the trailer It seems like alot has changed from the original, Like the whole “To Serve man” book with the twist meaning doesn’t seem to be in the movie.

  • MaryAnn

    Your only hope of originality is from yet another remake? I kid, I kid… ;-)

    Have you taken a look at the other studio films coming out this season? :->

    Why can’t secular people needing recourse to a higher power just find God, rather than aliens that conveniently share their world-view?

    Who needs a recourse to a higher power?

    And while there may indeed be intelligent, civilized alien life out there in the universe, the aliens you seem to believe are a substitute for a deity are fictional characters. Which everyone who finds them philosophically intriguing realizes. What’s more, we realize that they were specifically designed by their inventors — the people who wrote the stories in which they appear — to appeal to us on a certain wavelength, and to represent, in a literary sense, certain philosophies. If only the God-believers realized that the situation is much the same with their crutch.

  • Jolly

    What’s more, we realize that they were specifically designed by their inventors — the people who wrote the stories in which they appear — to appeal to us on a certain wavelength, and to represent, in a literary sense, certain philosophies.

    I realize most people that find this approach appealing recognize the fictional nature of the beings. I see Klaatu and Gort as little more than extraterrestrial imperialists, though. Whatever philosophy they represent comes down the barrel of a vary large gun.

  • I think aliens are much more likely than God.

    However, much as I frequently agree with MaryAnn, I hate everything I’ve seen about this movie. I’m not much of a Keanu Reeves or Jennifer Connelly fan. I love the original, which is a quiet, little movie. The remake looks way too loud and not very smart. It’s very unlikely I’ll go to see this movie, much as I’ve been dying for a decent science fiction movie. Since The Road’s been delayed, guess I’ll have to wait a little longer.

  • I have been somewhat leery for similar reasons. The trailer makes me feel like this is a totally different movie that just shares a title with the original.

    I remain willing to be proven wrong. :)

  • hdj

    I know “To Serve man” was the twilight zone, it was just a inner joke that, I had to correct someone else of the differences.

    anyhow I disagree with it being to loud, I’m sure most of those army scenes are just bigger budget takes on when Gort creates havoc, The cast doesn’t look to mumbled with misplaced big names, it could be a bit Matrixy for all we know.

  • JoshDM

    Hello dear Ladies and Gentlemen! I would like inform you that Jennifer Connelly (actress) actually is a clone from original person Jennifer G—– last name, who has nothing with acting career. That clone was created illegally by using stolen biological material. Original person is very nice (not d**n sexy),most important – CHRISTIAN young lady! I’ll tell you more,those clones (it’s not only one) made in GERMANY – world leader manufacturer of humans clones, it is in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Mr. Helmut K—- home town. You can not even imaging the scale of the cloning activity. But warning! Helmut K—- clone staff strictly controlling all their clones (at least they trying) spreading around the world, they are very accurate with that, some of them are still NAZI type disciplined and mind controlled clones, so be careful get close with clones you will be controlled as well. Original person is not happy with those movies, images, video, rumors and etc. spreading on media in that way it would be really nice if we all will try slow down that ”actress” career development, original Jennifer will really appreciated that. Please remember that original Jennifer’s family did not authorize any activity with stolen biological materials, no matter what form it was created in it was stolen and it is stolen. It all need to be delivered to authorized personals control in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Original Jennifer never was engaged, by the way!

  • Jolly

    I get this vague sense that I’m being perceived as a defender of religion. There is no such intention—I’m agnostic bordering on being a full-blown atheist. Nevertheless, it’s hard to avoid the obvious—Klaatu is a Christ figure who intervenes from above. And many viewers are sympathetic because they perceive his mission as a just one. I think the kind of wish fulfillment at work in the original version is also a central feature of religions in general—the desire to be saved from our current predicament by a higher power. You don’t *have* to be religious to enjoy biblical stories.

  • hdj

    if in this one, this remake, Klaatu’s come to save the earth not us then its really not that biblical at all, is it?

  • HDJ: The original movie was an anti-nuclear war movie. It was made a few years after World War II. Earth was threatened with destruction because it was feared Terrans could bring war to other planets. I didn’t really see it as a religious allegory, even if the Michael Rennie character was…um…revived.

  • Jolly

    if in this one, this remake, Klaatu’s come to save the earth not us then its really not that biblical at all, is it?

    We’ll have to see what lessons Ted..er…Klaatu has to offer humanity. And Laurie…Klaatu goes by the name Carpenter while passing time with us incognito…pretty hard to miss the allegory…

  • hdj

    If he goes Incognito in this movie, and he is fighting for Earth’s cause, the whole Carpenter allegory won’t mean anything, it will be used because it was previously used.

    The old movie the whole Jesus thing can be seen because he wants people not to be so war driven, and you can link Jesus and anti war messages all over the bible. I don’t recall Jesus giving any parables about recycling or limiting the use of CFC’s

    but like you said why he lands on earth is yet to be revealed,
    I hope I’m right though tired all these Atheist here being right, tweaking out to there own atheist anthem.

  • MaryAnn

    You don’t *have* to be religious to enjoy biblical stories.

    No, that’s true. But you *do* have to be religious to think *they’re actually true.* Anyone who saw the story of this film as factually accurate would be rightly dismissed as a loony, while those who actually believe Bible stories are factually accurate are not. That’s the point I was making. And that’s a vital difference. It’s one thing to — temporarily, in the course of enjoying a work of fiction — imbue a fictional character with a certain halo because you identify with he/she/it philosophically, and quite another thing to live your life as if that fictional character were real.

    Klaatu is a Christ figure who intervenes from above.

    It appears, however, that Keanu Klaatu is not intervening on behalf of the human race, which would, perhaps, make him a religious figure to the collective consciousness of Planet Earth, but not, I would think, to humans.

  • Shadowen

    My number 1 reason?

    Wolverine trailer.

  • Jason

    “Jason, I believe you’re misusing the term ‘man-crush’. A man-crush is where a guy has a ‘crush’ on another guy, but without the sexual attraction. Kind of like an idol worship thing. What you have are two standard (and perfectly understandable, as I share them too!) crushes. :)

    Unless you’re implying that there are things I don’t know about Jennifer Connolly and Rachel Weisz… :O”

    Yeah, I forgot about how the term is used now. I for a long time used the term in reference to an adult male having a thing for an adult female. “Crushes” to me are what you had in the 6th grade… :)

    Oh, and why does God have to enter into any conversation about mankind having it’s ass handed to it? I guess because I am not religious I don’t understand that…

  • Jason

    More importantly, how are you guys doing the awesome colored box quote dealies?

  • Put the text that you’re quoting inside blockquote HTML tags.

  • Jason

    Put the text that you’re quoting inside blockquote HTML tags.

    Awesome, thanks. I wasn’t sure what you meant so I looked at the page source, which I should done in the first place…

  • Jolly

    The preview on Cinefantastique comments on the religious aspects of the movie. A brief quote:

    “Reeves acknowledged that one might also read Biblical subtext into his vesion of Klatuu, who could be said to start off in the mold of the angry God of the Old Testament, threatening destruction (a la Noah’s flood), before transition to the kinder, gentler God of the New Testament, ready to forgive errant mankind if they repent.”

    http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2008/12/06/day-the-earth-stood-still-preview/

  • Jolly

    It appears, however, that Keanu Klaatu is not intervening on behalf of the human race, which would, perhaps, make him a religious figure to the collective consciousness of Planet Earth, but not, I would think, to humans.

    What’s this mysterious “collective consciousness of Planet Earth” that you refer to?

  • Jolly

    BTW, the impetus for me posting on this thread in the first place was MaryAnn’s claim that Native
    American’s eschewed property rights. I don’t think this is a claim that can be sustained by the anthropology literature in any systematic way. Nomadic tribes may not have had much use for systems of property rights, but some tribes were agricultural. Particular notions of native land stewardship seem to be based on the bogus Chief Seattle speech I referred to above, where a screenwriter in the 1970s in appropriating the voice of historical figure

    Ideas (Canada Broadcasting Company radio show) has a show on the concept of “Mother Earth” as it relates to aboriginal people and, based on interviews with native scholars, concludes that it is a Western import.

    http://qspace.library.queensu.ca/html/1974/157/Mother%20Earth.pdf

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