The Day the Earth Stood Still * 1/2 (out of ****)

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: David Scarpa based on the original script by Edmund H. North
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Jaden Smith, James Hong
Rating: PG-13 (sci-fi disaster images and violence)
Running Time: 103 min
Release Date: 12/12/08

Hollywood seems to have a massive creativity block. The Day the Earth Stood Still being yet another remake of an old classic science fiction film. Save for modern special effects there is little to show for the effort. This time the aliens aren’t worried about the possibility of nuclear war but rather they are the “hardcore greens” who value ecosystems so much that they are planning to annihilate the human race to save the ecosystem. You see its ecosystems that are so rare and precious not intelligent species.

An object is hurtling to Earth at 30,000 kilometers per hour and because it has made a course change the government believes it is an alien spacecraft. A secret mobilization of a select group of scientist has been called that is reminiscent of the opening of The Andromeda Strain. One of them is Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly) a professor specializing in exobiology theory. She isn’t exactly pleased but the government suits don’t give her any real choice. Neither do they have answers for her as they don’t know themselves. Soon she finds herself with a group of other distinguished scientists on a helicopter heading to the projected impact point in Central Park in New York City.

The scientist are a bit apprehensive as the time for impact occurs given that a strike by an object moving at that speed would release the equivalent energy of a 50 kiloton nuclear bomb per pound of the objects mass. So if this thing weights even 100 tons it would release more energy than if every nuclear weapon on Earth were detonated at that location. Fortunately the alien craft “put on the breaks” and made a safe landing as did our helicopter with Helen and the other scientists.

So out comes this alien and some trigger happen soldier shoots it just like in the original movie. Fortunately it wasn’t killed and is quickly transported to a facility where our doctors are a little unsure about how to handle the case. So they remove the bullet without using anesthetics given they didn’t know what effects our drugs would have on the creature.

Next thing you know this alien turns into what appears to be a human being. He eventually tells us his name is Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) and that he wants to address the UN. Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) who has been left in charge given that both President and Vice President are at undisclosed locations nixes this idea. Instead she wants him injected with a truth serum and polygraphed. I don’t think you use both at the same time? At least she didn’t have Klaatu waterboarded!

Klaatu escapes using his special alien powers while the military tries various approaches to deal with the giant robot that came out of Klaatu’s spacecraft. Helen gets to chauffeur Klaatu around as he meets with an alien agent who has been observing Earth for decades but won’t leave when the process is started even though it would mean his death. Given that the meeting with the UN is being frustrated by the U.S. government, Helen arranges a meeting with Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) an internationally respected physicist.

While waiting in the study, Kaatu corrects an equation on the Barnhardt’s blackboard just was the case in the original movie. Klaatu crosses out the cosmological term in Einstein’s gravitational field equation and makes some other changes we don’t see. For all its flaws at least movies production team took the effort to put something plausible on the physicist’s blackboard. (I gave it an extra half star for that!)

Barnhardt makes so good points with Klaatu pointing out that the need to be a point of crisis for humanity to make the changes the aliens want. He asks what led to Kaatu’s race making their change. Klaatu states that their sun was dying. So they had to leave their solar system and obviously they were much further along than we are now. If Kaatu wants to deal with pollution why not give us the technology for the next generation energy source rather then kill us all? They certainly aren’t propelling spacecraft at 30,000 kilometers per second with windmills!

The whole plot is lame and the only merit I see in the movie is the degree in which it exposes the hard green agenda as the radical nihilistic philosophy it is. Well, and some good special effects. My enjoyment of even this was limited do to some greenies in the row behind me who cheered at the movie that Kaatu and his robot made against Earth. They antics did nothing but to add to my judgments above.

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