Friday, December 12, 2008

Not Too Excited About "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

"Everything will be explained," a government goon tells Jennifer Connelly's exobiologist, Dr. Helen Benson, in "The Day the Earth Stood Still." A space ship has landed and Helen is urgently needed to make nice with the occupants. What's never explained is why anyone would do such a dumb remake of Robert Wise's 1951 sci-fi classic, which starred Patricia Neal as a touchingly plain mother and Michael Rennie as Klaatu, the Christ-like visitor carrying a message of peace (or else). Where the original film was unpretentious, this version, with Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, is insufferably full of itself, an "X-Files" episode pumped up to pseudo-cosmic proportions. Where the first one had the warmth of confident artistry, this sorry second is as cold and blank as the expression on Mr. Reeves's face. Instead of Sam Jaffe doing Albert Einstein, John Cleese soldiers through a silly cameo as a Nobel laureate who studies biological altruism. In the spirit of critical altruism, I say stay home and watch the real thing on DVD.

-Joe Morgenstern's review in today's WSJ.

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