• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Day The Earth Stood Still

TITLE: The Day The Earth Stood Still

YEAR: 2008

GENRE: Science Fiction

Generally speaking it can be annoying when Hollywood studios remake classic films, but it is far worse when some writer or producer believes that he can take the timeless material and rework the storyline or plot and improve upon it. There are countless efforts that have been made by these arrogant types that time and time again fail to capture the magic of the original material. It seems that the reason these executives do this is because they have run out of original ideas and are hoping that lightning will strike twice with some tweaking or modernizing of the story. This is the case with the remake of the Robert Wise 1951 classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, and the modernization of this classic sci-fi film may have flashy effects but falls flat on every other level.

Klaatu (played by Keanu Reeves) is an alien sent by a group of alien cultures to Earth to serve as a Noah-type to gather up non-human animals for an unknown cause. Klaatu travels with an immense robot who serves to protect Klaatu and to assist him in his work. Scientist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is called to duty by Presidential consultant Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) to study the alien and to find out his intentions. Interrogation efforts against Klaatu do not work and the alien escapes capture with the help of Dr. Benson who has compassion for the stranger in a strange land. However, as Dr. Benson learns of Klaatu’s intentions she realizes that the entire planet is in danger of annihilation.

This version is more dark than the 1951 version as the original served as a warning of environmental destruction while the 2008 version has aliens who are working to prevent humanity’s destruction of the environment. The problem is that the story does not carry as much weight or shock value as the original material and is not as interesting or engaging. Most of the acting is not as good as one would expect from a $80 million production: Reeves is as wooden as he has been in any production and does not give a quality performance like Michael Rennie did in the original film, and Bates puts in the worst performance of her career as she is not convincing on any level as the exclusive representation of the world’s leading government. Especially annoying is the addition of Will Smith’s son Jaden as an overbearing kid who serves no purpose for the storyline or production. Connelly, on the other hand, is decent and deserves more roles like her earlier work Requiem Of A Dream and A Beautiful Mind than this high budget junk. The special effects are fabulous as should be expected and the filming is lush and professional, so the tech heads of the film world will be satisfied with the visual candy. The problem here is that the story updates are not creative and almost expected from a film made during a fairly cynical time during American history. The ending is also especially horrendous and does not tie the loose ends of the story into a neat little bow as quality stories would do. The viewer is just left hanging at the end—maybe to leave room for a sequel—but ends up being as satisfying as a 49 cent cheeseburger.

This remake did make huge dollars at the box office, which is even more living proof that Americans are easily suckered by a slick ad campaign and incessant hype. I really do not have a lot to say about The Day The Earth Stood Still as it came across as an expensive yet uninspired jumble of a production. This film is inferior in every way to the original 1951 production. Do yourself a favor and rent the original masterpiece instead of this cheap imitation.

* *

–Mark

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