Wednesday, December 31, 2008

31st Jan 08 - The Day the Earth Stood Still

In a last ditch effort to beat last year’s Cinemafool record of 44 films, we squeezed in one final cinema trip before the last seconds ticked away on the arbitrary marking of time that is the new year. Throwing caution to the wind, the only film that didn’t involve children’s stories being brought to life was a Keanu Reaves remake, and though it had the whiff of potential poo, what better way to see out the year than with a bit of Armageddon? It turns out there are many better ways to see out the year, or spend two hours of your life. Poking a trifle with a fork. Lying face down on the floor. Watching Pirates of the… well, ok. Not quite that.

But it’s surprising just how bad The Day the Earth Stood Still really could be. On the trailer there were cool money shots that suggested full scale destruction. We could ignore ghost-faced wax-work model Keanu plodding around in the background because lorries were being vaporised! Whole stadiums demolished! Who knew what other death and devastation could await! Well. The answer is, frustratingly, none. This is the most sedentary Armageddon piece I have ever seen. The earth is at threat but our only connection to the world is eyebrow-laden Jennifer Connolly, her token son and a handful of army cut-outs, including the portly government representative (a shamefully wasted Kathy Bates). Who cares if the earth is destroyed? Blast it away, was all I could think, as long as you do it with style. But no. They couldn’t even offer me that. Big spheres all around the world. Massive ass-kicking robot. But what, ultimately, is the method of destruction? Dust. A big cloud of metal dust heading for New frickin’ York. Whoop-de-do.

This is the day time stood still as the plot meanders towards a damp flannel finale and your tolerance towards moronic Keanu lessens the more he stares blankly at the camera, perhaps wondering which film he’s supposed to be doing or what time his tea is. Connolly tries her hardest, widening her eyes and staring into lights at every opportunity, but really no one cares. The only reason to watch this sort of film is to see the earth get blown to pieces - there is no other desired outcome in this genre - but this film stoutly refuses to play ball. Sod action and suspense, let’s have a trip to McDonalds and a nice conversation instead.

No disaster flick has yet to beat the monstrously fun Independence Day, a film littered with everything you need in the genre – likeable characters, mega earth destruction, and a rousing speech with drum rolls tinkling in the background. The Day the Earth Stood still is like taking Independence Day and only showing the opening half hour where nothing really happens. But without any form of tension whatsoever. Watch the trailer for the cool stadium shot, then just look at a powerpoint slide with the phrase “save the Earth – recycle” and you’ll have the same effect, only more enjoyable.

A pants way to finish the year, the only way to cheer yourself up is by reading the Cinemafool review of 2008 and seeing the veritable picnic basket filled with film goodies that we’ve been treated to over the last twelve months. The Day the Earth Stood Still, meanwhile, earns a paltry CF-3, and a place on the turkeys list. I’m now making the sound of a raspberry, which I tried typing out but couldn’t get the vowels right. You know the sound I mean though. Think of this film, make that sound, and go rent a DVD instead.

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