In an alternate world I’d be sitting here telling you that The Day the Earth Stood Still was actually not that bad. Keanu was a great Klaatu (that sounds made up), the CGI was really solid (so solid that it kinda got me excited for Dr. Strange being made by the same director), and the plethora of good television actors was fun. But it’s not an alternate world. Since Patrick and I are ardent consumers of all things bad movie related, I obviously watched the original film and read the original short story on which it’s based. Guess what both those had? Really good twist endings and meditations on the nature of the human race. What did this one have? A terrible ending and a meaningless, meandering plot. That’s the thing. When I groan audibly during the ending of a film it kinda ruins its chances of being Not that Bad.™ And when the original film is a stark christian allegory on the decline of morality in the atomic age, and the new one has an entire scene set in a McDonald’s in central NJ… well.
You know what I was loving in this film though?! The fabulous Settings 101 display that The Day the Earth Stood Still put on. They reset the original film in New Jersey/New York as Klaatu wants to meet with the world leaders at the UN. That’s satisfying enough for a nice easy C grade in the class. A main setting of the film is talked about by the characters. But wait, The Day the Earth Stood Still wasn’t done yet. We are then told via insert titles (meta-acknowledgment!) where almost every scene of action occurs in NY/NJ! And I’m serious, like every scene is like “OUTSIDE NEWARK, NJ.” It happens like ten times. Amazing work. You’re in B range. TDtESS must be done now? Not a chance. At one point Klaatu has to be picked up by Connelly at Newark fucking Penn Station. They are going out of their way to include settings in the plot! Straight up A- all over the place. They can’t do any better than this, right? Wrong. In the climax of the film, as nanobots are eating their way through the New Jersey (as they should), the film goes out of its way to show the nanobots devour MetLife stadium in The Meadowlands (as they should). A major New Jersey landmark getting destroyed in the climax! That’s an A folks! Only way it can get to A+ is if they titled it The Day New Jersey Stood Still… but alas. Can’t win them all (unless you’re London Has Fallen).
‘Ello everyone! The Day the Earth Stood Still? More like the Hour my Brain Stood Still! Booooooooooooooooooooooooom. We watched a remake of some classic Sci Fi, so what is the worst that could possibly happen? … let’s get into it.
- The Good – If this wasn’t a remake I would have said the story was at least somewhat interesting. The CGI was pretty incredible for the time. The cast for the most part handles their parts pretty well.
- The Bad – Not surprisingly Jaden was a pretty bad part, but mostly because his character was totally unlikeable. But mainly the black mark upon this movie was that it was adapted from a classic. Without the previous movie as a touchstone this is like Day After Tomorrow, a movie whose fault lies in its heavy handedness. Instead it felt a bit closer to the new Red Dawn, just not a good idea in the face of inevitable comparison to a classic. Makes me want to watch the new Point Break?
- The BMT – I guess. I’m honestly a tad bit surprised at how many votes this movie got, and 40 I guess feel a bit too high. I would say more like 30 ish at best. Might even go a little lower, below average even. The effects were alright, and you really have to stretch to find things that make you go “I’ve got to show this to somebody!”.
This movie is also a fine addition to the how-much-product-placement-can-you-sell-before-it-is-a-parody-of-itself pantheon. The original (table sized) Windows Surface, some watch, and an LG phone were pretty noticeable. But holy shit, right in the middle of the movie they might as well have had Keanu shout “I’m feeling hungry, but a kind of hunger that sticks, where do you Earth people go for high quality sustenance?” and Jaden and Connelly look at each other and say “Sound like someone needs a Mac-ers run!”. What followed was essentially the Mac and Me McDonald’s Dance Sequence:
And then at the end Keanu could have walked towards his space ship, turned around to look at Jaden, given a Terminator 2 thumbs up and said “Da-da-da-da-da … I’m lovin’ it!”. I’m only being mostly hyperbolic. The irony of McDonalds, one of the largest corporations and producers of garbage in the world, being on prominent display in an unabashedly pro-environment film is also hilarious (although I’m thinking that might have been the point, McDonalds trying to show they are working with environmentalists across the board at the time). Anyways, this was, bar none, the highlight of what was otherwise a nuisance of a reboot, I do love me some in your face marketing.
The assessment of product placement is a long standing tradition with us, so it needs a name. Product Sklog-ment brought to you by McDonald’s. Da-da-da-da-da, we’re lovin’ it! It’s got a good ring to it.