The one-sheet for The Day The Earth Stood Still (20th Century Fox, 12.12) implies a massive scale to the visiting alien space craft — a bigger-than-big whoaness. This obviously summons memories (although I really mean “nightmares”) of Independence Day, which is not a good thing for reasons I shouldn’t need to list here. And if (I say “if”) this indicates where the filmmakers are coming from — scary-gargantuan! eerie-cool! — it indicates to me a lack of original vision.
Because they mainly seem to be competing with past alien-visitation films (Close Encounters, etc.) that have used a massive sound-and light show approach to the big landings. In so doing the DTESS guys are obviously trafficking in the usual-usual, which is to try and crank up a not-very-hip crowd that mainly wants to be awed so they can sit in the fourth row with their massive buckets of popcorn soaked in amhydrous butterfat and go “kewwwl!”
What if an alien space ship arrived around noon on a sunny day in an open public place? What if it just showed up and plunked itself down on a big green lawn under a cloudless blue sky without any light-beams puncturing through fog and smoke with the usual wind machines blowing every earthling’s hair? Not cool enough, right? Maybe, okay, but wouldn’t a different sort of landing be more welcome? Something quieter, odder? What if Klaatu’s landing isn’t witnessed at all?
It was reported today by the N.Y. Times Michael Cieply that the Comic-Con crowd gave the DTESS product reel a spirited response “despite a certain amount of web-driven skepticism that has been swirling around the new movie√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s eco-friendly themes.
“One person who posted earlier this month on imdb.com had demanded to know why ‘would aliens care about the earth√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s environment unless they intended to use it themselves?’
“Released in the fall of 1951, the original Day the Earth Stood Still was directed by Robert Wise and based on a story by Harry Bates. It cast Michael Rennie as an alien, Klaatu, who had been sent with his robot sidekick Gort to hand earthlings an ultimatum: Live peacefully, or die.
“This time around Keanu Reeves, who plays the Rennie role, is apparently detailed to save the universe from earth√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s terminal messiness — think of an alien Al Gore, with serious muscle.”