Curiosity got the better of me, and I actually went and paid to see the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Considering my last adventure at the movie theater, I probably should have known better. But it was both not as bad as I expected and far worse. Granted, I thought I’d hate it. But in the end, the first half of the film I found intriguing. The second half? Like a drill slowly burrowing into my brain as the second hand on my watch moved backwards.
This “reimagining” of Robert Wise’s 1951 classic exchanges the fears of earthly war mongering for environmental devastation. Klaatu’s race/organization/whatever doesn’t fear what humans will do to each other, but to the precious resource that is a planet able to support life. In the original, Klaatu is sent with robot guardian Gort to warn humanity that its destructive nature (and development of nuclear arms) will ultimately force the rest of the universe---the civilized part that is---to destroy it. Klaatu in the current film comes without warning to destroy humans right now. Humanity is inherently destructive to the environment, he decides. Though after a little squishiness, he’ll see that there is “another side” to us later in the film.
The Good. 1. I actually liked Keanu in this film. He was able to pull off a foreignness in his portrayal that made “first contact” believable. In the original film, Michael Rennie’s Klaatu becomes more and more human. We never make the mistake of thinking the same about Keanu’s Klaatu. There is a distance between him and the human characters throughout.
2. The premise of an advanced civilization’s concern over the environment. There’s ample belief in the scientific community that few planets like ours exist. That an advanced civilization would consider this planet as a resource that far outweighs the moral implications of genocide seems plausible.
3. The morality of Klaatu’s civilization. On the other hand, that this “advanced” civilization chooses to destroy humanity instead of sharing technology and helping us along is interesting. Though Rennie’s Klaatu threatens humanity with destruction at the end of the film, he is sympathetic to its primitive state throughout. Keanu’s Klaatu doesn’t have any patience for us. His civilization seems to have a sense of entitlement. I found this interesting to ponder.
4. The technology of Klaatu’s civilization was fascinating. Gene manipulation, biological interface with electronics, and organic metal. Truly awesome.
The Bad. 1. Why does every Hollywood film have to have a cute fatherless/motherless child?
2. If this other civilization is so concerned about the environment over everything else, why does a little weepiness from the previously mentioned cute child cause Klaatu to reevaluate wiping humanity out? So a kid cries about his dad, does that really mean we won’t burning this baby down with greenhouse gases, plastics, and overpopulation? I say torch the humans.
3. Everything after Klaatu meets with Dr. Barnhardt. If you do see this film, when John Cleese leaves the screen, LEAVE THE THEATER.
4. I still don’t see why this film had to be remade (or “reimagined”). The original is a piece of art from a certain period. It forever belongs there. There was nothing about it that needed to be updated or reinterpreted. Please, Hollywood...please start producing some original screenplays.
My journeyman life of wealth and fame began in the Hoosier State (we’re proud of it, folks), and my codes have read IN, MO, PA, A-Wien. Currently, I’m installing cybernetic implants to improve my vision, hearing, and memory. That’s of course when I’m not shapeshifting and taking the form of a grizzled brown bear in the timber forests of Southwest City. All of this is made possible by my very useful and lucrative M.A. in Comparative Religion (I highly recommend graduate school to everyone). But that’s enough about me…who the heck are you?
I’ve been looking for direction in life too long. Here, there, here, there, especially with reading. So I’ve turned to editor/theorist/critic David Pringle as a guide. In the mid-80s, Pringle released a series of essays in book form called “Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: An English-Language Selection, 1949-1984.” Following Pringle’s book, which starts with “1984” and ends with “Neuromancer,” I’m reading every title in chronological order.
The bicycle is the perfect form of transportation. It’s clean, easy, and fun. It’s also the most efficient form of transportation. I believe in efficiency. One day, there will be bicycle boulevards in St. Louis. I hope I live to see that day. Until then, I will settle for the meager trails and bike lanes the city currently has to offer.
I believe in St. Louis. It has the infrastructure in place to once again be a major city in the United States. It already has wonderful people, delicious restaurants, and my wife...so I suppose I won’t be leaving anytime soon.