The Day The Earth Stood Still

Directed by Scott Derrickson
Screenplay by David Scarpa
Story by Harry Bates
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Kathy Bates
Release Year: 2008
IMDB rating: 5.6

The remake of a 1951 movie of the same title, The Day The Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi flick with great premise, but failed to be impressive, least memorable.

Essentially, in a zip, the aliens got fed up with earthlings tendencies to abuse the mother earth, and decided to do some cleansing on planet earth. Klaatu was sent as their messenger. Suddenly, this reminds me to the starting point of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s story, where earth was demolished to make way for intergalactic transportation route. Klaatu then met Helen Benson, a scientist that got scooped up by the US government to investigate the alien sphere that was coming to earth. From his interactions with Helen, Klaatu went to ponder whether cleaning up earth from humans would be a good idea to do or not. Especially when Helen pleaded by saying that: “We can change.”

While the premise was great, the execution failed to impress me. The alien that landed on Manhattan? Oh it was so not menacing, because it was kind enough to use high-pitch sound to the humans, and the fact was the humans started the fight. Then, Klaatu’s intention to speak at the UN? That’s new to me, because usually in the movies, aliens attack first, and get their chances to talk later. Then there
’s the plea: “We can change.”. Yeah, for how long? Ever since the mankind populated this earth, I guess nothing ever changes. Fightings between humans will always exist. Only the abuse of planet earth, I guess, has the chance of stopping. Of course I don’t know exactly when. Then when the swarm of metallic insects ravaged the earth, well I think they should have picked the humans instead of cars or street signs or even a stadium. Finally, the most awkward thing that I noticed was the morning after the alien spheres landed. The news reported than all the stock markets were down big time. Recall that the event took place sometime in the evening in the US, so the US stock market would have been closed already, and if anything happened to the stock market, it would only happen to Asian markets. Europe would not open their markets on such big event.

The acting, however, was not great. Keanu Reeves only do very little lines there. Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith were the ones with the responsibility to impress the audience. Still, I could not find anything impressive from them. In fact, Jaden Smith might have been overdoing it. Kathy Bates and John Cleese only delivered standard performances in their supporting roles.

The only good point about the movie was probably its special effects, but that too, was pretty much standard because lots of other films got better special effects. So, in the end, despite its glorious success at the box office, The Day The Earth Stood Still was only a sci-fi movie with lack of impressive stuffs in it. I probably have to look for the original version. It is said that the original was way better.

For the final score, I give it a 5.0.

Gran Torino

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Nick Schenk
Story by Dave Johannson & Nick Schenk
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley, Brian Haley, Brian Howe
Release Year: 2008
IMDB rating: 8.4

Clint Eastwood is back! This time as an elderly war veteran whose wife just died. Living alone in a neighborhood with most of them are Hmong people, Walt Kowalski is also having an inconvenient relationship with his two sons. As a war veteran, he still could not shake away his memories during his service in Korea. When his Hmong neighbor, Thao, tried to steal his Gran Torino, the relationship between the two started. Initially feeling uncomfortable with his neighbors, Walt began to find a new ‘family’. When a problem with Hmong teenage gangsters came up, Walt would be caught in between the gangsters and his newly found family.

Walt Kowalski may not be as tough as Dirty Harry, but at least he had the same menacing impression, while Thao and his sister Sue were well played by Bee Vang & Ahney Her, respectively. The acting in the movie is centered in these three people. Walt’s family members were given smaller roles as well as Father Janovich. Dialogues were good. Despite his menacing look, Walt was rather a funny person in his own way, if you observe his dialogues and monologues. Various impressions from anger, guilt, fear, and happiness were there in Walt Kowalski’s character, and Clint Eastwood definitely played this character well.

Although the ending was rather a surprise for me, I considered it as a very good ending. I’m not going to spoil it here, but I’d say it was a great one. The pace of the story was also good, building up the suspense up to the end of the movie. If asked what’s the point of the whole story anyway, well I’d say that that was actually mentioned sometime during the movie when Father Janovich talked to Walt about life and death. Walt felt that he knew a lot about death from his service in Korea, while he was unable to answer what he knew about life. This movie was about Walt finally found the answer to the latter question.

Even with just three core characters, the movie was very enjoyable, and both acting and the plot were very good. I’d give it an 8.0, at par with Changeling.