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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Day the Earth Stood Still (review)

End of the World? Please!

When the aliens come, and they want to blow us out of the galaxy for being such a waste of organic chemistry, and we’re all like, “Oh no, no, we’re good, we’re noble, we’re worth not killing,” and the aliens decide, “Okay, you puny humans can be, like, our court jesters, just entertain us and we’ll spare your miserable monkey lives,” let’s make sure we hide this movie away and not offer it up as an example of how entertaining we can be. Because otherwise we’re, like, totally doomed.
There’s a running bit here about how people — or civilizations — only really change when threatened with extinction or destruction, and you would think that a movie that allegedly is all about pushing humanity to that precipice would actually feel like it was teetering on some kind of, you know, precipice, instead of feeling like it was reading from some sort of instructional manual for “How to Make an Alien Invasion Movie That Doesn’t Rock the Status Quo.” The movie uses that actual word, precipice, and it’s a good word, but it has to be more than a word: it has to be a mood. Just like the original Day the Earth Stood Still, back in 1951, was both about an alien who arrives and threatens to exterminate us all unless we disarm nuclearly, and was simultaneously, via that alien-threat theme, a metaphor for the genuine threat of extinction via nuclear war, so this update is both about an alien who arrives and announces that we are scheduled for immediate extermination because we’re killing the biosphere and all the other innocent creatures who depend upon it and we must be stopped, and simultaneously a metaphor for our actual destruction of our environment. Or at least it thinks it is thusly metaphoric. So it should feel like friggin’ Soylent Green or something, all boiling heat and the oceans dying and starving people feeding on the corpses of the dead. Or it could at least throw a melting-icecap bone our way, maybe some drowning polar bears.

Instead, this is The Day the Earth Barely Even Notices We’re on the Brink of Doom, and Why Don’t Those Damn Hippies Just Shut Up About Global Warming Already? Sure, all those rioting people in the streets on the news on the TVs in the background appear to have noticed that a big-ass alien swirly sphere has landed in New York’s Central Park, but I’ll be damned if there’s any indication that those rioters understand why the aliens prefer to save the planet over us… or any indication why the audience watching the film should understand it, either. Nope, it’s all widescreen TVs for those news reports and trigger-happy armies shooting at the ambassador from another freakin’ planet and product placement for crap no one needs and rest stops at McDonald’s for a conference about whether the humans are worth saving or not. In a movie that evinced any sign of self-awareness whatsoever, I’d call all this — particularly the McDonald’s bit — ironic, but if anyone here understands that rampant consumerism and a fast-food culture is part and parcel of the Earth-killing business, there’s no sign of it.

Klaatu (Keanu Reeves: Street Kings, A Scanner Darkly), the ET who gets potshot at the beginning of the film, gets it: “Your problem is not technology. Your problem is you.” Be nice if updating screenwriter David Scarpa (The Last Castle) or director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) got this, instead of becoming examples of it. What, the end of human civilization isn’t enough, they have to throw in a wildly unnecessary subplot about a sad child? (The kid is played by Jaden Smith [The Pursuit of Happyness], who is Will Smith and Jada Pinkett’s son, and he truly is totally adorable, but still…) Is his contentious relationship with his stepmother (Jennifer Connelly: Reservation Road, Blood Diamond) meant to be representative of how unbelievably fucked up humanity on the whole has gotten? If so, never fear: all we need is a good cry and a hug and maybe some McDonald’s french fries to make the boo-boos go away. If only.

If movie had any balls at all, and genuinely wanted to shake us up and make us reconsider our ways, it would begin where it ends. I won’t tell you what happens in the end (hint: it’s stolen from one of the best ongoing science fiction book series of the moment), but it’s at once an awesome demonstration of the aliens’ power and resolve (and should have been their first solution, actually, to the Human Problem, rather than wiping us out) and the start of the real story. It’s the most extreme of ways out for the mess we’ve made of the planet, but that’s what could have made for a truly gripping, truly dramatic science fiction tale. The one we got is, alas, instantly forgettable, and completely useless if it had any hope of saving Earth from us.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I think I read an entertainment news item the other day, actually, that said they were going to beam this movie into space. So we’re doomed. It should reach Alpha Centauri by 2012, which is enough to make you think there’s something in this Mayan calendar gubbins.

  • Mary, you missed the point a little:

    Why the hell would aliens be concerned about us ruining our own biosphere?

    In the original movie, the Galactic Council was concerned our nukes and our warlike behavior might decide to attack them, so the threat was a warning that they were going to preemptively destroy us before there was a first strike by us.

    What are they worried about here? That we’ll go to their planets and litter? Use fluorocarbons? We’re not a threat to THEM. If they were concerned about us, they’d let us commit suicide. Here, it’s “If you don’t stop killing yourselves, we’ll kill you!”

    Ay yi yi.

  • Patrick

    Just got my “DtESS” Special Edition DVD. (It looks sooooo good in its remastered clariy, BTW!) It came with a free ticket to see the remade debacle. I guess if I get disappointed, I’ll get disappointed for free!

    SF movies very, very, very rarely work to shake things up in our culture–and that’s a shame.

    I’m dreading doing some middle-of-the-road, touchy feely, namby pamby version of the subversive “The Man Who Fell to Earth” featuring Robin Williams in David Bowie’s original role. Blecch!

  • I’m a little saddened by your review, but not surprised. One of the things I love about the original DtESS is its deep, unabashed irony. A bunch of aliens coming to Earth and telling us “Stop being violent!” “Or what?” “Or we’ll kill you all!” I always got a kick out of that…

  • blake

    Alex Knapp you are a genius.

    I never thought of the irony.
    It will always be my greatest downfall.

  • Jolly

    Right on, MaryAnn! Let’s get rid of the “Doctor Who” DVD box sets, flights to Europe, wine, and other sh*t that nobody needs that’s killing our planet. And screw the blog pages full of banner ads selling stuff that will only disappoint, eventually decomposing for 10000 years at some landfill.

  • Chris-E

    Totally expected this type of review. Being “green” is a fad (at least for story and advertising purposes), but if you’re gonna be preachy then go balls to the wall! It should also make sense! Wouldn’t killing billions of humans release untold amounts of carbon into the atmosphere making things worse? Then again, it is carbon that helps “green” things grow (which is why limits on carbon are funny to me!).

    There are far more imminent dangers in the world than the .50 degree temperature change.

    Global warming is real to an extent, but I’m positive there’s more to it than the effect man. Ever heard of the “little ice age”? What about the “medieval warming period”? There were no cars and factories back then! What caused the climate change in the medieval period? Maybe it was all of the dragons? Yeah! They breathed so much fire that it caused the world to heat up and then the 3 degree increase in temperature caused them to go extinct!

    The simple fact is that without humans the world has still gone through regular warming and cooling cycles. Hurricanes, tornados, wildfires and other “natural disasters” are just that, NATURAL. They cannot be prevented no matter “clean” the energy is. New Orleans wasn’t destroyed by global warming, it was just badly designed (since it’s below sea level) and had poorly built levees. On top of that, the local government did not prepare it’s citizens enough before the storm and the Federal government failed to act when it needed to.

    Maybe pointing out how inept our leaders are (Democrats and Republicans) would have been eye opening and would have been a good subplot. Maybe on another planet there are actually good politicians who truly represent the people they “serve”. That would be real science fiction!

    Instead it’s always that humans just suck and we have no redeeming qualities. I don’t need to pay for a movie to tell me that we all suck. I have eyes!

    I think Wall-E presented a more valid argument. Mass consumerism and the “get shit cheap” mentality are more dangerous. Buying a bunch of crap we don’t need and will eventually not use is more harmful because that stuff ends up sitting in a landfill and trashes the environment (not to mention most of it is made in China, who is the largest polluter).

    How do you get rid of all the trash? Launch it to space! Then aliens will come here and try to kill us for screwing up their environment. That would have been a far better “environmental” scenario for a remake.

  • MaryAnn

    Mary, you missed the point a little:

    Please, it’s MaryAnn, not Mary.

    Why the hell would aliens be concerned about us ruining our own biosphere?

    Because they like the biosphere; it’s extremely rare, and worth saving, in their minds.

    Chris-E, please take your global-warming-denying bullshit somewhere else.

    Right on, MaryAnn! Let’s get rid of the “Doctor Who” DVD box sets, flights to Europe, wine, and other sh*t that nobody needs that’s killing our planet. And screw the blog pages full of banner ads selling stuff that will only disappoint, eventually decomposing for 10000 years at some landfill.

    Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, Jolly, but of course no one is saying, “Don’t ever buy stuff ever again.” The idea is to be smart about what we buy and how we live, and to be sustainable about it.

    It really frustrates me that so many people see so many things as black-and-white.

  • Chris mankey

    There are far more imminent dangers in the world than the .50 degree temperature change.

    Oh look it’s a long idiotic screed on global warming denial!

  • Chris-E

    I’m not denying global warming! I’m stating that man is not solely the cause and that there’s history of it happening before the impact of man.

    You cannot ignore that FACT, even if you want to ignore my comments. I in no way said climate change was a myth, or that we’re not contributing to it. I just stated that people are capitalizing on the “green” craze by creating fear. Now they’re trying to pass it off as entertainment. Your reviews are very political at times, yet it’s not okay to make comments here if they are not totally in line with your liberal views? I’m not Ben Stein. I’m an athiest and I believe in science, but I won’t be fooled by companies trying to sell new products or by Hollywood.

    Like you, I love Wall-E and think it’s the best film of the year. It succeded by being subtle and yet “in your face” about the issues that face us. It also didn’t say humans are evil, just that we lose our way at times. Wall-E is smart, this new “Day” is not.

  • KV

    Dies the Fire as best ongoing ‘sci-fi’ (every time we type that, Harlan Ellison herniates somewhere, and as much as I love his writing, that warms me slightly)?

    Urk. It’s a fair opinion, being, well, personal opinions, but there’s mine. I think it would work rather well as a film or HBO series, actually, because then the bloated ‘Hey, look at my research!’ writing style won’t get in the way of a fairly well-handled, if not particularly novel, plot.

    ‘Foreigner,’ by Cherryh, is probably my choice, honestly. Ongoing narrows it a bit – I honestly love ‘Cyteen’ more, and can probably noodle it as an ongoing, being that a sequel is arriving in January.

    In any case! Dies the Fire is still likely better entertainment for people than this film… which I shamefully admit I will go see anyway for laughs.

    (P.S. – The original tale by Harry Bates, ‘Farewell to the Master,’ is a nice piece of nostalgic science fiction. Available free on the internet, ‘nostalgia’ in this case means ‘It hasn’t aged very well, but it has its place in geek history and is worth a little bit of your time.’)

  • KV

    I suck for train of thought thinking – the reference to ‘Farewell to the Master’ is me derailing back to the film at hand, and not more musing on science fiction novels.

  • MaryAnn

    Your reviews are very political at times, yet it’s not okay to make comments here if they are not totally in line with your liberal views?

    Opinions are welcome here, whether they agree with mine or not. Fiction and spin masquerading as fact do not. Anyone who dismisses the dangers of the human impact on global warming with “natural cycles” spin clearly is uninformed on the matter. And unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that there *is* no greater danger to human civilization that the steadily rising temperatures.

    This thread will NOT turn into a debate on the merits of global warming and climate change. I will delete further comments that attempt to debate this matter.

  • Anne-Kari

    I’m bummed. I’ve been hoping for a fun remake of this film, and looking forward to my favorite Guilty Pleasure actor (Keanu). But this just looks like it sucks. Harumph.

  • Chris-E

    I thought message films like these were meant to spark “debate”!

  • logos

    And here I thought MaryAnn was a champion of rational inquiry and an opponent of dogmatism. Big mistake.

  • MaryAnn

    I *am* a champion of rational inquiry. There is no rational opposition to human-caused climate change, and the potential dangerous ramifications of it. Global warming isn’t dogma — it’s science.

    I thought message films like these were meant to spark “debate”!

    Right. This movie is meant to spark debate about the authenticity of human-caused global warming as a threat to civilization the way all the Nazi-themed movies this season are meant to spark debate about whether the Holocaust really happened.

    Deal with it, folks. The indisputable scientific consensus is that we humans have knocked the natural climate cycles way out of whack, which will be to our extreme detriment unless we reverse it (and we may already be too late to do so). If the scientific consensus changes, fine. But the fact is that there is no serious doubt among the scientific community that we’re fucked unless we do something soon, and maybe even if we do.

    But like I said: we’re not going to debate this here. There are plenty of other places on the Web to debate this, if you really want to. I also will not tolerate: anyone who claims evolution didn’t happen or Santa Claus is real. Tough shit. It’s my site.

  • Shadowen

    I also will not tolerate: anyone who claims evolution didn’t happen or Santa Claus is real.

    Now you’re going over the line with your dogma, Mary-Ann. Saint Nick was a real person. :p

    …and because I’m the kind of person who picks at things, I will say that I don’t think any climatologist thinks the climate doesn’t change over time without intervention from humanity. The mere existence of the term “ice age” should tell you this. The point with anthrocentric climate change is that humanity is accelerating or perhaps even reversing what would be the natural cycle. Similar to how cultural systems evolve faster than biological ones, so too is the rate of warming caused by our consumption and certian inefficient but convenient technolgoies predicted to exceed species’ ability to adapt to it.

  • Shadowen

    Now, on topic: was the Wolverine trailer worth the price of admission, MAJ? Or since you saw this in a preview screening were you exempted from having to watch ads before the movie?


  • One of the things I love about the original DtESS is its deep, unabashed irony. A bunch of aliens coming to Earth and telling us “Stop being violent!” “Or what?” “Or we’ll kill you all!” I always got a kick out of that…

    I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen the original (haven’t decided whether to see the remake—I had been looking forward to it but now I’ll have to check out some more reviews before I decide to put my money down) but your comment makes me wonder if THE ABYSS was drawing on DTESS as thematic source material.

  • This is one of those times I’d very happy to not be a professional reviewer. I’m so glad I don’t have to see this movie. Jim and Leslie were going to go, but with the globally horrible reviews for this movie, they’re going to see Bolt and I’m going to see Milk (which FINALLY hit Pittsburgh this week!).

  • Joe R.

    I’ve noticed that The Flick Filosopher does this a lot with her comments section, using it as an excuse to bully anyone who disagrees with her.

    If she had bothered to read Chris-E’s post properly she would’ve noticed that he wasn’t denying that global warming exists, nor was he denying that man had a role in it – but that didn’t stop her from putting those words in his mouth.

    I’ve noticed a pattern emerging on all these comment threads…. anyone who dares to disagree with the holy writ of MaryAnn is insulted and ridiculed by the almighty reviewer, or even if (as in the case of Chris-E) they agree on the broader issue but have a different perspective on certain particulars.

    I wonder why she even bothers to have a comment thread after each review – because any feedback that is not in line with her own views is greeted with defensiveness and arrogance.

  • Joe R.

    The Flick Filosopher’s behaviour on this thread are particularly ironic given her comments in the review of “Role Models” – where she bemoans Hollywood’s condescending and humiliating treatment of certain minority groups.

    Odd then that she would use the comments section at the end of the “Day The Earth Stood Still” to condescend to and humiliate someone she believes to be a member of some minority group.

    It’s sad that she felt the need to distort the truth in order to do so…. labelling a person as being in denial of the existence of global warming, when, if she had actually read his various posts properly and fully, then she would realise that he is not.

    Shame shame shame.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Oh, for goodness sake. Joe, are you seriously suggesting that climate kooks should be considered a persecuted minority? Is this some kind of postmodern prank humour, or are there people out there who seriously think that having serious scientists regard you as silly is discrimination comparable to what Steve Biko or Harvey Milk had to stare down? I mean, I’m going out for a drive today, and I’d hate it if the road was all clogged up with waaaaaahmbulances.

  • Vergil

    If YOU would have read HER replies “properly” you would see that she did not put words into Chris’s mouth. Yes, MaryAnn is an unapologetic screaming liberal, but anyone who can read and comprehend a co2 concentration graph over the last say 400,000 years would have to admit that she’s right about this point. LOVE your use of the word “evinced” by the way MaryAnn.

  • Kenny

    I agree with the original review of the movie. The product placement was blatant and, as usual, out of place. There was absolutely no depiction our consumer ways forcing the biosphere’s decline, unless the blatant product placement was meant to be an ironic illustration of our real priorities. (The movie wasn’t that clever, so I doubt this was intentional.)

    I also agree that the final solution, the ‘price’ should have been the alien’s first action. Klatu could have just turned our technology off for a while, walked into the UN and talked to the representatives of every major world government without hinderance.

    Finally, there was a line “They (the UN) are not our leaders! I’ll take you to our leaders..” *sigh* If ONLY our leaders were Bach loving, Nobel prize winning, esoteric formula pondering scientists with gravitas and deep moral understanding.

    There were things I did like about the movie. Reeves was perfect, and GORT was superb (utterly implacable and totally, incsrutably menacing.)

  • Ide Cyan

    MaryAnn: have you heard of L. Timmel Duchamp’s Marq’ssan Cycle? It pretty much starts where you say this movie should start. http://www.aqueductpress.com/marq-cycle.html

  • PaulW

    I worry about Jennifer Connelly. She’s a good actress who keeps lining up for… well… questionable movies. That and her diet (or lack of one). Eat a burger, McBeal! cough, wait…

  • Jolly

    Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, Jolly, but of course no one is saying, “Don’t ever buy stuff ever again.” The idea is to be smart about what we buy and how we live, and to be sustainable about it.

    Yes, MaryAnn, I was being sarcastic. However, buying “smart” is subjective, and often involves people justifying their own consumption patterns while denigrating those of others. I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with flying or driving a Hummer. My impression is that the earth is capable of absorbing the impact of some human activities. The issue is of scale; with over 6 billion people we are capable of generating activities that are beyond the capacity of the earth to deal with. This involves hard questions about how to ration actions that have a detrimental effect on the environment. These questions have yet to addressed at any length. Talk by environmentalists about what *others* “need” generally strikes me as sanctimonious.

    Your comments about the role of fast food simply confuses me. In 1985, the Soviet Union was the second largest producer of CO2 (19%). Clearly, fossil fuel driven industrialization plays a huge role. Hummers or Big Macs may be symbolic of American “excess,” but eliminating them won’t in and of itself address problems like anthropogenic climate change.

  • Jolly

    Excerpt from an article in the Guardian:

    “According to the researchers, people who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the most likely to take frequent long-haul flights abroad. The carbon emissions from such flights can swamp the green savings made at home, the researchers claim.”

    http://www.flyingmatters.co.uk/templates/news_article.asp?PageID=148

  • Kenny

    Jolly, buying smart is not a subjective decision at all.

    You say there is nothing intrinsically wrong with flying all the time or driving a Hummer, but in the next sentence you talk about it being a problem of scale… that there are 6 billion people on the planet.

    So what you’re basically saying is that it would be FINE to fly everyewhere and drive a Hummer, if only there were only a couple of billion of us?

    Since this is a pointless and incredibly redundant argument… I think we can safely move on… don’t you think?

    There are six billion people, so we have to figure out what kind of carbon footprint the Earth can support per head of population… and stick to it.

  • Jolly

    Kenny, I think you’re the one missing the point. Did you get to where I wrote: “This involves hard questions about how to ration actions that have a detrimental effect on the environment. These questions have yet to addressed at any length.”

  • jolly

    Jolly, buying smart is not a subjective decision at all.

    Of course it is, when the decision is voluntary. Can you tell me what the current target is that I should be striving for to stop further accumulation of CO2? Can you claim that you’ve personally reached this milestone?

    Suppose we established a personal “environmental” quota for each person, and that quota allowed for some set of activities beyond basic food and shelter. Provided that I stay within my limit, do you have any right to judge the merits of the activities that I do choose? Provided of course, that they meet other ethical criteria.

  • Kenny

    Yes Jolly, I got to that point… however all you’re interested in saying is that enviromentalists are sanctimonious. I’d be very surprised to find an environmentalist who wasn’t lowering their carbon footprint to the very best of their ability.
    You don’t need to wait for the rationing question to be addressed at length (or rather, to your satisfaction) before you impose a bit of self discipline on your consumer activities…

  • Jolly

    So what you’re basically saying is that it would be FINE to fly everyewhere and drive a Hummer, if only there were only a couple of billion of us?

    If sustainability is the only criteria, it’s probably acceptable to do those activities with the current population, provided that they are allocated to the privileged few. I don’t believe I indicated anywhere that everyone could do those activities for anything other than a very small population. Probably well below 2 billion…

  • Kenny

    And no, I would make no judgements on how you chose to spend your carbon ration… I think we can be fairly certain that your Hummer would take up most of it though :)

    I hope you really love that Hummer.

  • Kenny

    Haha.. “Allocated to the privileged few”!!!

  • Jolly

    You don’t need to wait for the rationing question to be addressed at length (or rather, to your satisfaction) before you impose a bit of self discipline on your consumer activities…

    Already done that. I only drive the Hummer on Tuesdays now…

  • Jolly

    I hope you really love that Hummer.

    Funny thing is I don’t even own a car. Apparently you figure that anyone that criticizes certain aspects of the environmental creed must outright reject the underlying concerns…

  • Joe R

    For the record, I do think that global warming exists and I am in complete agreement with The Flick Filosopher’s political/scientific views.

    What I objected to what MaryAnn’s rudeness and arrogance in the way she talks to people on the comments section of her website. Not her politics.

    I liked the way Vergil and Bruno Strozsek tried to twist my words and made arrogant assumptions about my political views.

    It’s not the Flick Filosopher’s politics I object to – it is her rudeness and arrogance in talking to anyone with opinions that are different from her own.

  • drew ryce

    It all depends on hw you view the fundamental nature of this site, isn’t it.
    If this site is analagous to MaryAnne’s “living room” then it makes perfect sense for her to set ground rules like “no smoking”, or “no holocost denial” and boot you out if you insist on lighting up.
    If the site is analagous to a public gathering place, even one with a business purpose like a cafe or a bar, then you are far more likely to take offence at curbs on ones public speech.

    For myself, I am inclined toward the “living room” model. MaryAnne has set the place up. It’s hers and if I don’t like her rules I can start my own salon.

    That said, I suggest that MaryAnne exercise caution and restraint in her use of the boot. The hostess can ban smoking, but if she does it while she is chain smoking stoogies, it looks bad and leaves a bad feeling.

  • MaryAnn

    For the record, the only comment I have deleted from the comments thread to this post is one that agreed, 100 percent, with my stance on global warming. And I deleted it because it had absolutely goddamn nothing to do with the movie *The Day the Earth Stood Still.*

    I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care whether you disagree with me. I care that you STAY ON TOPIC. The relative merits or not of the scientific stance on global warming are NOT ON TOPIC for this thread. If this we were talking about a documentary about global warming, that might be a valid topic to follow. For this film, it is not.

    Stay on topic. That’s all I care about. Honestly.

  • MaryAnn

    Now, on topic: was the Wolverine trailer worth the price of admission, MAJ? Or since you saw this in a preview screening were you exempted from having to watch ads before the movie?

    They don’t show trailers at press screenings, but as soon as I can find a version online, I’ll post it as a trailer of the day.

    I’ve noticed a pattern emerging on all these comment threads…. anyone who dares to disagree with the holy writ of MaryAnn is insulted and ridiculed by the almighty reviewer,

    You know what? Here, on this tiny patch of the Internet, I *am* the almightly reviewer. I’m the god of this tiny demesne. And I will smite the unworthy.

    MaryAnn is an unapologetic screaming liberal,

    You’re suggesting there’s something one should feel the need to apologize for?

    MaryAnn: have you heard of L. Timmel Duchamp’s Marq’ssan Cycle?

    No, I’m not familiar with that series, so I can’t say if it bears any resemblance to how the film ends.

    buying “smart” is subjective, and often involves people justifying their own consumption patterns while denigrating those of others.

    Yes, that’s true.

    I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with flying or driving a Hummer.

    You don’t think there’s something selfish about driving a vehicle that gets such abysmal gas mileage — and that also consumes a disproportionate amount of resources to produce itself — even as we *know* the oil will run out someday, and likely rather soon?

    Clearly, fossil fuel driven industrialization plays a huge role. Hummers or Big Macs may be symbolic of American “excess,” but eliminating them won’t in and of itself address problems like anthropogenic climate change.

    They are *not* just symbolic. The culture we’ve built, which involves immense investment of energy into the production of food on one side of the continent so that it can be frozen and shipped to the other side of the continent, does not have to be this way. Cheap fake food that drives out small local producers of real food impacts everything, from our carbon output to our health. It’s all connected to the killer lifestyle we are living… killer for us as individuals and killer for our environment.

    I’m NOT saying that everyone should be bicycle-riding vegetarians. I’m saying that there are not-too-difficult ways that we could be living that would be better for almost everything *except* corporate bottom lines (unless those corporations were slightly more farsighted than the next fiscal quarter, and unless those corporations start taking into account the true cost of what they sell). But this movie doesn’t want to see that, even as it pretends that that’s what it’s all about.

    That is infuriating, and it is absolutely right to condemn this movie for being complete and utter bullshit when it comes to confronting the real and dangerous issues facing us. It does not have the guts to truly deal with them.

  • MaryAnn

    Suppose we established a personal “environmental” quota for each person, and that quota allowed for some set of activities beyond basic food and shelter. Provided that I stay within my limit, do you have any right to judge the merits of the activities that I do choose? Provided of course, that they meet other ethical criteria.

    Guys, I’m not kidding. If you want to talk about this kind of stuff, you’ve GOT TO CONNECT IT TO THE MOVIE. Otherwise, take it outside.

    And, whaddaya know, I just deleted another comment, one that I did not agree with, but only because it had absolutely fuck all to do with TDTESS and was downright trollish, with obviously no intent to even speak seriously even if it was off topic. (Hint: Anyone who mentions Al Gore as an authority on global warming is probably going to get the boot, whether you’re invoking him in a positive sense or a negative one.)

  • Jolly

    You don’t think there’s something selfish about driving a vehicle that gets such abysmal gas mileage — and that also consumes a disproportionate amount of resources to produce itself — even as we *know* the oil will run out someday, and likely rather soon?

    I think the more interesting question regards the ethics of an economic system that results in an individual being able to amass the resources needed to buy and operate a Hummer while many go hungry. Middle class environmentalists like to emphasize choice, as if voluntary restraint and voting with our wallets will fix everything, when many will never be in a position to make such choices. I’m not going to say more, because I don’t think this is the venue.

  • Marc

    Well, I guess we’re all doomed now. They’re beaming it (the movie) into outer space. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/INSERTING-and-REPLACING-20th-bw-13790201.html

  • “I’m a little saddened by your review, but not surprised. One of the things I love about the original DtESS is its deep, unabashed irony. A bunch of aliens coming to Earth and telling us “Stop being violent!” “Or what?” “Or we’ll kill you all!” I always got a kick out of that…”

    Alex, you missed the point of the first film. The aliens were afraid that we would try to destroy THEM with nuclear weapons.

  • MBI

    “Alex, you missed the point of the first film. The aliens were afraid that we would try to destroy THEM with nuclear weapons.”

    Right. So they came down and threatened us with their big scary weapons because they perceived us as a threat. When the U.S. did this, it was called the “Cold War,” which is the same action that Klaatu condemns us for throughout the entire movie at great length.

    Goddamn do I hate the original movie. This terrible remake is actually an improvement.

    Here’s another statement I heartily disagree with: “Jennifer Connelly is a good actress who keeps lining up for… well… questionable movies.”

    Completely wrong. Connelly is a bad actress whose esteem has been inflated by picking a lot of good movies to be in.

  • Jolly

    The hostess can ban smoking, but if she does it while she is chain smoking stoogies, it looks bad and leaves a bad feeling.

    My complaint would be that our hostess is nowhere near as informed as she presents herself. Take the following generalization where she extols the virtues of local food:

    The culture we’ve built, which involves immense investment of energy into the production of food on one side of the continent so that it can be frozen and shipped to the other side of the continent, does not have to be this way.

    I won’t disagree that production energies are a problem. However, “food miles” are bogus – goods are often shipped from abroad because the enery requirements for producing them elsewhere are lower. The following quote is from the Review – Institute of Public Affairs, on food exports from New Zealand to the UK: “Table 2 demonstrates that the CO2 footprint of apples is less, and lamb is spectacularly less, in New Zealand than in the United Kingdom. Only onions have a comparable CO2 footprint, but that is still after transportation is factored in.”

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5490/is_200707/ai_n21295693/pg_2?tag=artBody;col1

    The local food movement has been recognized as a sham by people within the environmental movement.

    In all fairness though, MaryAnn is a film reviewer, and probably doesn’t have the time to research sweeping claims before making them.

  • Kenny

    The more I think about the movie.. the more pissed off I am.

    Sure, they may have felt that global warming and the decline of our biosphere are so implicit that they don’t need to show them, but the product placement just served to undermine everything the movie was supposedly about.

    Also I kinda have a problem with the price at the end of the movie. Klaatu stops everything from working. Every single element of our technology just grinds to a halt…
    I don’t care how advanced his culture is… our technology, at its most fundamental levels, works because of the physical constants of the Universe. These same constants are what allows us to exist as living beings.

    If Klaatu managed to stop electricity from working on Earth, our nerves wouldn’t transmit impulses and we’d literally be dead in a heartbeat.

    Cars stopped working? They use internal combustion to run their engines… without fire, most of us will die this winter.

    Finally, I may be wrong, but wasn’t that a wind up watch on the sec def’s wrist? Clockwork stopped working??

  • Vergil

    I liked the way Vergil and Bruno Strozsek tried to twist my words and made arrogant assumptions about my political views.

    Your welcome, but I really can’t take credit for something I didn’t do.

    You’re suggesting there’s something one should feel the need to apologize for?

    No, I’m not. I’m suggesting that there are liberals that get offended when you call them liberal, but you are not one of them.

  • Vergil

    Oh…and how bout that movie? Crazy stuff huh?

  • Jason

    I still want to see the move, but as usual I’ll wait until the DVD comes out.

    Oh, and by the way, cradle to grave, the Toyota Prius uses more total resources to manufacture than a Hummer H2. Just the battery pack alone is horrible on the environment. The material is mined in Canada and the surrounding environment has been ravaged. That material is placed on ships, which run on fossil fuels, sent overseas, built into battery packs, and is sent back on ships. The Hummer H2 is built mostly of off-the-shelf parts and is based on the Yukon platform which has been around forever. More petrolium product is used to build a Prius than a Hummer H2 as well. The rpius is another example of environmentally friendly products/technology that is worse for the environment than if we never went in that direction at all. Ethanol puts more carbon in the air and uses more fossil fuels to make than if we just all drove 4 cylinder cars.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Climate Change is occurring and that mankind is hastening it along, but we are not being smart on how to deal with it. the current environmental movement is about money, just like everything else. I am more environmentally correct than a Prius driving hypocrite and I drive a 95 Ford pickup truck. I own a small 1100 sq ft house, all heating, appliances, and lighting are efficient, and I am driving a vehicle that is only consuming fuel, not additional resources to build like a new vehicle. I also limit my driving so I use less fuel than a Prius owner because people with fuel efficient vehicle drive more so it negates the idea in the first place.

    MaryAnn, I know you said to keep it to the movie, I’m sorry. I just had to post because I saw a lot of mis-information and just wanted to point a few things out. I want to see the movie but I’ll use less resources buying a dvd than driving to a theater and consuming popcorn and soda and the energy needed to run the theater. Just doing my part for the environment….

  • JoshB

    MaryAnn, your review practically begged the comments to turn into a discussion of global warming. All through it I kept wondering when you were going to get to the actual review. 90 percent of the text is devoted to lamenting the fact that the film doesn’t do global warming justice (which isn’t the goal of the film anyway.) Meanwhile, a scant few sentences discussed the film as a film, with script and plot and actors and such.

    For the record, I personally thought the movie began well, ended lamely, and featured some of the laziest writing I’ve ever seen outside of Heroes. The scene where Klaatu is confronted by a police officer and how it is resolved was the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a good long while. And the inane Expositionogram in the McDonald’s wasn’t far behind.

  • Spencer

    Holy hell. You might just have to be a iron-fisted moderator to control this, MaryAnn. I’d support you, for what shit it’s worth.

    Let’s see: special effects, script, casting, directing, cinemetography, sound, pacing, editing– all kosher.

    Global warming: not kosher. That’s it. Seriously, is it really that hard, people?

  • MaryAnn

    90 percent of the text is devoted to lamenting the fact that the film doesn’t do global warming justice

    No, my review is lamenting the fact that the film is not about what it thinks it’s about. That’s certainly a legitimate tack to take when reviewing a film.

    If Klaatu managed to stop electricity from working on Earth, our nerves wouldn’t transmit impulses and we’d literally be dead in a heartbeat.

    But that’s the kind of nitpicking that can tear apart *any* science fiction movie. The more interesting thing about this idea, from a storytelling perspective, if that this act on Klaatu’s part is going to have *enormous* impact on human civilization. Millions, probably billions of people are going to die. The way those who survive will live will be dramatically different from the way it had been. That’s the beginning of the story, not the end of it.

  • MaryAnn

    we are not being smart on how to deal with it. the current environmental movement is about money, just like everything else.

    Yes, agreed. And that’s what I’m talking about with my review! This movie is terrified of rocking any boats and threatening any corporate interests. So it’s worse than useless, in actually downplaying the very things it pretends to be attempting to bring attention to.

  • Kenny

    Well MaryAnn… I agree that it would make an interesting beginning for a story, but I don’t know if it makes sense based on the motivations Klaatu appeared to have at the end of the movie.

    Here’s an alien who’s seen mother and step-son cuddle and make up. Here’s an alien who deliberately saved their lives just moments earlier.
    Here’s an alien who has seen that there are two sides to Human nature, and who thinks we deserve another chance.

    In the post visit Earth Klaatu has left for Humanity, it won’t be the people who display the caring, sensitive side he cherishes that come out on top. It would be the same self serving bastards who are largely responsible for the mess in the first place.

    What he’s done is condemn 99% of Humanity (in all probability including mummy and step-son) to a lingering death.
    He’s cast Humanity back to the very first moments of our sentience. No fire? No cooked food, no warmth.

    What would have been so wrong about imposing renewable energy and and a zero carbon footprint on all of us? Haha.. he’s shown that his technology gives him godlike powers. He could have snapped his fingers and made it right.

    What I’m saying is that ultimately, the solution he came up with at the end of the movie makes as little sense as plan A, which was just to exterminate us.

  • MaryAnn

    Let me put this another way: It doesn’t matter whether or not, in actual reality, it’s actually true that humans are contributing to global warming or human activity is causing an irrevocable degredation of the planet’s environment. The premise of the movie is that these things are true, and the aliens are threatening us because they want to stop us. So the question is, Does the movie succeed in depicting the damage the humans are doing and the reasons and motives of the aliens?

    Whether or not Priuses are less environmentally safe than Hummers is beside the point. Whether Al Gore is fat is beside the point. What kind of car I own is beside the point. (I don’t own a car, actually.) We can talk about how successful or not the film is *in presenting its own thesis* without getting sidetracked into debates about the thesis.

    On the other hand, if someone wants to make the argument that this movie is NOT about what I think it’s about, that it’s about something else entirely, then I’d love to hear that argument.

    On the other other hand, if someone wants to take the position that global warming is bullshit and this is just another example of liberal Hollywood shoving its politics down the throats of decent hardworking Americans who don’t share those politics, then there’s no need to go into *why* global warming is bullshit — we can take it as a given that you believe the usual stuff that people believe who don’t think global warming is real and caused by humans and a problem. (Just as we don’t need to have *any* posts *defending* concepts of global warming — we can take those as given, too.) What you do need to go into is describing, with detailed examples from the film, how the film believes it is going to change anyone’s mind about global warming and the human degredation of the environment. How does the film, in other words, achieve this shoving of liberal bullshit down our throats?

    Just stay on the topic of the film. It’s really not that difficult.

  • Kenny

    Aha! It doesn’t. At all.

    MaryAnn, I was wondering just there. If there was a special edition DVD which featured the following deleted scenes, would it change your opinion of the movie? (I’m trying to forget the ironic product placements)
    Deleted scenes… A montage just after the climber has his DNA sampled depicting alien orbs (or perhaps the secret Chinese/alien agent) observing Human pollution, expanding deserts, melting icecaps and our blatant, uncaring consumerism.
    I’m not thinking a long section here… perhaps only a minute or so.

  • Kenny

    Oh and I really, really liked GORT.

  • puffrooster

    I just want to see a good movie already… you know, something that is worth paying $14.00 plus another $12.00 for a soda and some popcorn.

    That movie would have been Star Trek but that was delayed till May. (sigh)

    So this is a “frezze, don’t shoot otherwise we will destroy you!” movie?

  • “…So it should feel like friggin’ Soylent Green or something, all boiling heat and the oceans dying and starving people feeding on the corpses of the dead. Or it could at least throw a melting-icecap bone our way, maybe some drowning polar bears…”

    Agree with your assessment of the movie, but just to play devil’s advocate, wouldn’t that be a tad bit too late then? If we’re at that point then that means the toilet got flushed long ago already. And then why would the aliens come to save a planet that is beyond salvation? And then why would this movie need to exist? Because for this film to have had an impact, it had to have a visual impact of a decimated planet, but then the kind of movie you make out of that situation is completely different. So what we needed was not a remake, but a completely original movie, like the original ‘Day’ was.

  • Maybe decimated is a bit too strong. Crumbling perhaps?

  • Robert

    No greater danger to human civilization than (allegedly mankind-caused) rising temperatures? Dunno ’bout that. How about acts committed because of human intellect stunted by varieties of irrational mysticism and factionalism. People already slaughter each other by the trainload & die due to auxiliary deprivation & ignorance because of these kinds of issues.

    So they’re gonna scoop up samples of various critters, cleanse the Earth – destroying the ecosystems they came from – and expect things to work out by just dumping them back into the pond eh? Hmmmmm.

    And in our Inevitable-Doomsday-Anyway department, wondering what Klaatu and his Klub are planning on doing about our sun eventually expanding into red giantism and swallowing the Earth, making environmentalism a moot point.

  • Robert

    …wondering what Klaatu and his Klub are planning on doing about our sun eventually expanding into red giantism and swallowing the Earth, making environmentalism a moot point.

    Btw, *there’s* some global warming for ‘ya.

  • MBI

    “On the other hand, if someone wants to make the argument that this movie is NOT about what I think it’s about, that it’s about something else entirely, then I’d love to hear that argument.”

    To be honest, I don’t think that global warming is the concern of this movie. The focus is all on wanton, not careless, destruction, so I’m guessing the movie is more concerned about nuclear winter. Of course, it expresses this fear in the most vague, cliche and uninvolving way, that we can all agree on.

    I love Klaatu’s logic, by the way. “We are superior to your race and have involved past the need for mindless destruction. Now watch as we genocide you to preserve natural resources we weren’t even using.”

  • MBI

    Gah, “evolved,” not “involved.”

  • Brendon

    “That is infuriating, and it is absolutely right to condemn this movie for being complete and utter bullshit when it comes to confronting the real and dangerous issues facing us. It does not have the guts to truly deal with them.” -MaryAnn

    I think that is what a lot of the reviewers had problems with in this movie, that instead of taking a risk and confronting an issue that’s ongoing today, bullshit or not, that it didn’t try to take any risk and stuck with a storyline that has already been played out before.

    Nuclear war is like, so 1960’s, even though I think that will probably do more damage in the near future anyways.

  • MaryAnn

    If there was a special edition DVD which featured the following deleted scenes, would it change your opinion of the movie? (I’m trying to forget the ironic product placements)

    It’s impossible to tell, without actually seeing such a version of the movie.

    Agree with your assessment of the movie, but just to play devil’s advocate, wouldn’t that be a tad bit too late then? If we’re at that point then that means the toilet got flushed long ago already. And then why would the aliens come to save a planet that is beyond salvation?

    I was exaggerating a bit with the *Soylent Green* reference, but if our understanding of the situation is right — and this movie presumes it is — then there are plenty of observable effect of climate change already happening around us but we’re not yet beyond the point of no return. So I don’t think the movie thinks it’s too late, but it paradoxically pretends that everying is hunky dory (even though it clearly thinks things aren’t!).

  • Jim

    Dear God, was this a bad remake or what. All the producers had to do was follow the story line of the original 1951 movie scene by scene and they would have had a way better movie. This remake was no coherency. Some of the best story lines were left hanging in the air or went nowhere. The meeting with Prof. Barnhardt, GORT, and the ending to name a few. It seems like someone just did a hatchet job to try to compress the run time with no regard for the story. This edit crew is better served working for some local news station and not on a major motion picture.
    Keanu did an ok job as Klaatu but John Hamm would have been better as the straignt faced no nonsense alien. This was a real case of role reversal. I could go on….
    My final recommendation: See the original with Michael Rennie. Made in 1951 (if you can believe it) it towers over this horrible remake. It has a flowing story line, is coherent and intelligent. And all that with next to no special effects. Imagine that! Now that’s film making.

  • Jon Foreman

    MaryAnne, your witty review of this movie cracked me up. Thank you so much for all the laughs. I thought the remake did try to make some points from the original, which I have not seen, but have a good enough understanding for it’s main thesis. At first I thought the story would be much like the original, with the main themes such as mankind’s folly for continuing to wreaking needless havoc and suffering upon each other. But all that was much overshadowed by all that controversy about global warming.

    I think the writers of the movie did try to present the original theme, since the conversation in the beginning between Klaatu and the president involved him being surprised (in the Keanu Reeves’ subtle and emotionless kind of way) at the fact that mankind is still in its “primitive” state of disunity, and he even later says “You treat the world as you treat each other.” I also thought the scene in the Mcdonalds (Forgetting the irony between the setting and plot) expressed some meaning about both the good and destructive aspect of mankind. But apparently later Klaatu totally discredits the positive advice from his own kind, and proceeds to begin his genocide upon humanity for the greater good of mother earth.

    Finally as the movie progress toward the climax it alludes to us that Klaatu is atually an extraterrestrial version of Noah preaching with a much more brief and hashed out version of Mr.Smith’s(The Matrix) monologue about how we can’t live in harmony with the world. That just jumped the shark for me. I also didn’t understand that whole thing about Klaatu being the harbinger with the secrets to life, it isn’t told specifically to the audience, but it’s definitely implied; it also really reminded me of those Sci-fi Scientology stuff.

    So pretty much the story is about Klaatu looking at a crossroad of two extremes, and then in the end he chooses to leap over the crossroads(shutting down all technology) with me sitting there thinking “why the hell didn’t he try that earlier?” Cuz it’ll totally ruin the movie? Oh wait they already did.

    If they make a sequel I hope they include Xenu. Those scientologists will have to make their own ultimatum of whether or not they should sue the directors for stealing their grand creation.

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