The Day the Earth Stood... A Chance

Last night I decided to take a break from my PC and so sat back and watched the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still expecting to be blown away by CGI explosions and awesome apocalyptic images (yes, I like to see fictionalized destruction on a grand scale).
Unfortunately, the only good thing about the film - other than the theme - was Jennifer Connelly; is it me or is she looking increasingly better with age? Plus I have a thing for nerdy types so seeing her as an astro-biologist got the ol’ juices flowing, so to speak, despite a lack of geeky glasses and only a brief scene in which she wears a lab coat…
And you have to admit that it was a good role for Keanu Reeves – he’s got lifeless, zombie-like characters down pat!

Although the original 1951 version took place on a war-torn earth just after World War II, the film’s theme is very apropos today considering the indisputable state of affairs and the melting polar ice caps. Plus, the general idea put forth, that the only way to assure earth’s sustainability is to exterminate humans or hope that we evolve into new beings, as suggested in Arthur C. Clark's book Childhood’s End, sums up my overall feelings.

In the film, the fact that Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) was unable to speak to world leaders should not be seen as an unfortunate mistake that results in his decision to do away with human kind; let’s be totally frank: as if talking to the UN would actually change anything. Should I mention Rwanda as an example? Which inevitably leads me to the brutal death of 6 million Jews and the dozens of equally brutal genocides that have occurred since then? As a species, are we actually capable of learning a lesson from anything and hence able to undergo a vital transformation in our so called ‘nature’?

You may call me unreasonably sceptical or overly cynical or just incredibly dubious of our overall potential as humans; I call myself a realist! Sure, there are plenty of examples to suggest otherwise but they usually represent isolated cases that can be easily dwarfed by statistics and counter-examples.
And yet the signs are there, the neuroses are deep rooted and we are generally discontented as a species. We have reached a crisis point and nonetheless, the only thing that seems to be driving humankind forward can be expressed in terms of economics. And even though headway is being made on the environmental front, it has unfortunately become a hot-button issue to be financially exploited on all fronts as it feeds liberal guilt.

So, going back to the film, maybe I missed it but what actually happens to warrant a change in Klaatu’s attitude?
And here’s a bit of Hollywood silliness I just have to point out: at the end of the movie those metallic bugs buzz down and wolf down (mixed metaphor intended) entire buildings and even a stadium within seconds yet a wimpy ass cement bridge provides adequate protection for our heroes?!?

After the film’s denouement (was there a conclusion?), we can only imagine what happens next: Connelly’s character signs a multi-million dollar agreement to write a book entitled “How I saved the World” and then embarks on the talk-show circuit; conspiracy nuts convince enough people that the government or some other group was involved in all of this while a handful of business moguls fight a secret war to get their hands on a sample of that placental matter for commercial purposes, and industrialists do all they can to make off with as many ‘re-construction’ contracts as possible…
Eventually things go back the way they were, albeit with better employment opportunities.

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© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier

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