Combustible Celluloid
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With: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Kyle Chandler, Robert Knepper, James Hong, John Rothman, Sunita Prasad, Juan Riedinger, Sam Gilroy, Tanya Champoux, Rukiya Bernard
Written by: David Scarpa, based on the 1951 screenplay by Edmund H. North
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence
Running Time: 103
Date: 12/10/2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Invasion Persuasion

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The original The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed by Robert Wise and released in 1951, is a classic, but it has its problems. Mainly, it's a movie about scientists and military officials standing around in rooms and talking, and the talk more than occasionally forays into sermons. The new remake, directed by the considerably less interesting Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), makes some small improvements in the action department but keeps the sermons at full bore. Nonetheless, it's an impressively big film, and even when it's bad, it's bad in a big way. Jennifer Connelly stars as Helen Benson a scientist snatched away from her daily routine and driven to a UFO landing site. She witnesses as Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) emerges, covered in gray slime, but eventually looking very dapper in a black suit. His purpose is kept secret for a long time, but it doesn't look good for us humans (we've done too much damage to the planet). It's up to Helen and her son Jacob (Jaden Smith) to convince Klaatu that we're really very nice, once you get to know us. Helen's relationship with young Jacob is one of the most interesting things in the film; he's the son of her late husband from his first marriage, they're not related by blood, and he's black -- and happily, no one ever mentions it. They love each other unconditionally, and their tenderness comes through vividly when it counts. Otherwise, the film's visual effects are very impressive and I had my breath stolen away as often as I found myself laughing at the general dippiness. Kathy Bates plays the Secretary of Defense in charge of the situation, given that the President and Vice President have been squirreled away in their respective safe houses. And John Cleese and James Hong appear in small roles.

DVD Details: Fox has released the DVD in a

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