The Day the Earth Stood Still
Cast : Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly
Direction : Scott Derrickson
Rating : ** & ½
It takes huge amounts of panache to remake one of the most unforgettable science fiction stories ever filmed.
Unfortunately, neither director Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) nor his top marquee cast of actors can pull off the feat. The outcome is an inconsequential rehash which lacks the terror and tension of Robert Wise's 1951 classic.
The update strives to remain faithful to the plotline of the original while addressing current-day issues. Instead of the anxieties of the Cold War era, David Scarpa's script substitutes the perils of environmental devastation. Ultimately, though, it merely beats the eco-friendly message into the ground.
We are expected to empathise with a humanoid alien (Reeves, unduly sheepish) whose arrival portends the doom of Planet Earth. The frequently odd outer space man must negotiate with the powers-that-be including the U S Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates, mock serious) to ensure the survival of the human species. He finds unlikely allies for the daunting mission in a scientist (Connelly, spirited enough) and her young stepson (Jaden Smith, likeable).
The leisurely-paced narrative slackens direly, especially during the latter half culminating in a wishy-washy climax. Technically the film is slick what with David Tattersall's atmospheric camerawork and snazzy computer-generated effects. As for the background music score by Tyler Bates, it doesn't compare favourably at all with Bernard Herrmann's energetic composition for the Robert Wise version.
Indeed, the original had an innovative quality which is sorely missing from the retread. Don't expect any surprises, then, and you won't leave the multiplex with a frown on your face. Bottomline: see only if there's no other alternative.