Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Day the Creative Process Stood Still

In 1951 a group of creative people did what creative people often do... they came up with a great story to tell and found a great way to tell it. That project was called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post all these years later should be seen as testament to the result of their commendable efforts.

A while ago, a group of people who call themselves creative, got together and decided that they had no stories to tell. Being that these people had access to simpleminded executives with lots of money and a movie studio, they did what most untalented people do who are still invited to Hollywood cocktail parties, they stole an old idea. This gang of hacks then recruited a group of actors who were sucked in by big paychecks and skilled ass-kissing and made a movie. That project is called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post is testament to the atrocious results of their efforts.




Let me make a declarative and indisputable statement. The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keeanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and (Will Smith's son) Jaden Smith (whose acting is never more impressive than a grade school play), sucks. To put an environmental spin on it... it blows harder than the worst catagory five a climate wracked planet could ever hope to spawn. There are so many things wrong with this film that the things that are least wrong were probably oversights. Which is to say, there's not a redeeming moment, a second of realism, an instant of sci-fi wonder, a clever effect, a smart line of dialogue, a meaningful plot device, an understandable course of action or a nano second when you don't wish you could get your money back.

This is bad, directionless, plotless moviemaking. No one should escape responsibility (or scorn) for achieving something even more meaningless than this past spring's bomb, Speed Racer and more useless than Mike Myer's debacle of a film project, The Love Guru.  If you have any familiarity with the 1951 original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, savor it. Don't go near a beam of light that flickers anything resembling an image from the remake. Don't, for God sake, skip the movie and get sucked into wasting a night on the rental. Instead, make a mental note that everyone who's name is somewhere on the print of this thing should now be considered suspect. They all deserve serious scrutiny, if not for the merits of their next project, then certainly for their willingness to accept pay without regard for foisting two hours of crap on a paying audience.

Nothing makes sense in the new The Day the Earth Stood Still. Before the alien, entrusted with preserving planetary survival, decides the human race is worth saving, (a decision he bases on one child crying about his dead father, before which the alien himself is responsible for a hard to keep track of body count), he unleashes a force that we watch indiscriminately destroy people and property (including, humorously for those of us in NJ, Giants Stadium). Then, realizing that humans have "another" side, he stops the destructive stuff and just leaves.

Not even a "sorry about that" as he exits, (in what has to be the worst spaceship ever conceived by a special effects department). So aside from being awful, the film is also despicable in its perverted effort to be timely and self-important.


By the way, one of the very finest elements of the original, the robot Gort, a pivotal and beautifully simple character that that film revolved around, is reduced in the remake to nothing more than a hi-tech doomsday device that even suffers the indignity of being named Gort again, but here by the scientists who reason the name from a convoluted acronym for Genetic Organic Robot Technology. (I think maybe Will Smith's son came up with that one and won a contest to appear in the film?)

Bottom line, skip it. Don't waste your time or money. There are just too many promising projects out there for the remainder of the year to be distracted by the worst that Hollywood can offer. We'll be focusing on those projects next at Moviedozer Dailies and hopefully we'll find ourselves recovered and in a far better mood.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god. This write-up had me laughing hysterically. The category-five thing is great. I think you should take this idea and let it dovetail into a longer piece that attacks this trend in movie-making. It seems that hollywood believes that the public accepts it as artistic to vomit up a grey regurgitation of a one-time piece of cinematic art that has been diluted and strained through the generic colander of faux-blockbuster parameters. I wouldn't see this movie if the title were a prophecy whose realization was contingent upon my showing up at the theatre.

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