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"The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)" ** (103 minutes)

Thursday December 11, 2008

I took in this preview for one reason, and one reason only: strictly as a guilty pleasure. Those familiar with the classic 1951 original sci-fi version by Robert Wise starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal (listed on AFI's list of the 200 top classic movies of all time and their top 10 science fiction list) should not come to this one expecting to hear spaceman Klaatu say those immortal words to Gort, his trusty armored robot : "KLAATU BARADA NIKTO!" No, what we have here is your typical watered down Hollywood special effects laden remake of the original thinking man's flick. Rennie has been replaced with that one note monotoned thespian Keanu Reeves (who actually is well suited in the spaceman role), while Jennifer Connelly is in the Neal role as the Harvard scientist recruited by the Government to investigate the sphere that has landed in Central Park (changed from the original D.C. locale). Also changed is the prime motive for all the otherworldly goings on: Klaatu warning our globe that we will be doomed (by him) if we continue our environmental self-destruction of the planet vs. the original film's reason being our incessant violence against each other. Also present is Will Smith's son, Jaden ("The Pursuit of Happyness") who is Jennifer's step-son, and Kathy Bates, who must have needed the money, completely miscast as The Defense Minister acting on behalf of the President who is hidden away during the crisis. Although the special effects are top notch, there is very little else to recommend-especially if the original masterpiece has held a special place in your heart and memory.

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