X down, and three to go … or four. Which makes seven, I guess. Or, umm ...
Not a remake of the 1951 original, but a reinvention. I haven't seen the original (yet), but by all accounts it's so different that this can hardly be termed a remake.
On remakes: In an attempt at a discussion on the BookCrossing Chit-Chat forum, someone said something ridiculous to the effect of what's the point in doing a remake if they aren't going to stick closely to the original. WTF? What's the point in doing a remake if they are?? Of course, there isn't much point in doing remakes at all, but there you go. Or is there? Any thoughts?
So, I saw this on Wednesday; me and Anéa. I think I liked it a little more than she did. ;-) But we did agree that it was worth seeing. My opinion summed up in seven words: a fantastic movie, apart from the plot. >:-) Visually it's absolutely stunning, fantastically well made, with very convincing SFX and some very striking effects. 'Spectacular' is the word I’m looking for. If you like this kind of thing – effects-laden Hollywood blockbusters, or effects-laden SF movies – then TDTESS is worth seeing for that alone. The scene in the cemetery especially sticks in my mind. I don't know what they did there, but they did something, and it was really beautiful.
As for the actors, let's see. Jennifer Connelly does a good job, but I didn't quite buy her as a brilliant scientist. She made the character too emotional, leaning almost towards the irrational. It didn't quite work for me. But of course she's very pretty and that is generally the most important thing in H'wood productions. At least there's no hint of romance, which would have been just so wrong and bad and stupid.
John Cleese is a little pudgy and very good, but he's only there for about five minutes. Kathy Bates is good as always, but I wouldn't rank this among her best work. Knowing her talent, I'd say this is middling. Jaden Smith … blech. He would not have gotten this part if he hadn't been a star baby. And if he hadn't been a star baby, maybe the writers would have done a better job with his character. He plays the Connelly character's obnoxious stepson. The part is rather underwritten, and the entire story arc centring on his character is so clichéd, so predictable, so uninteresting. You see everything coming a mile away … because you've seen it all SO many times before. V. obvious and, dare I say it, v. American.
Anyway … I'm sure we’ll see much more of Jaden Smith, but I really would rather not. Keanu next. ;-)
Keanu Reeves is perfect in this movie. Absolutely completely perfect. They could not possibly have found anyone better to play this character. This is the part he was born to play, forget about Neo. Neo who? This part is perfect for him, and he for it. He's talked in interviews about how he worked a lot with the character and found it quite hard to get it right (since he could not hang out with aliens and figure it out that way), but obviously, he found a way. :-) Fantastic performance, stellar. And for those of you who aren't able to perceive that it is a performance, and that it is very good … trust me, the flaw lies in your perception, not in his acting. Which I will definitely get back to at some point.
The big problem with this movie is the plot. No, that's not really true. Rather, it's the ending, and the morale. The story works well up until the ending. Should I give it away? Why the hell not, it's Hollywood, of course you've already guessed that it ends happily, he doesn't exterminate us as he's come to do. But he should have. He really should have.
The alien sphere lands in Manhattan (of course, only natural, why would aliens care about anything outside the US) and the Americans react the same way they always react to anything unknown and potentially threatening. (This part was very credible. >:-) OMG KILL KILL KILL!!! They capture the creature and when he asks to address the UN, Bates' foreign secretary hawk refuses. He escapes and starts the extermination process. So far so good. It all makes sense. And it's the right thing. Homo sapiens sapiens must go. When the Connelly character figures out what he’s doing, he explains it very simply: If the earth dies, you die. But if you die, the planet survives. Yess!! I so agree. Someone please put us out of the misery we’ve created. (<-- Not a joke.)
Anyway. Here's where the logic starts to fall apart. The creature, Klaatu, is supposed to be so highly evolved and so rational. He comes here to wipe us out, because we suck. Then he gets to know two humans – 2, one of them very annoying, out of a total of 6.7 billion specimens – and this is enough to change his mind. Highly evolved my shiny metal ass. Obviously this is a ridiculously small sample and worthless scientifically. These two may be nice, but so what? It's not the individuals we're talking about, it's the species. I don't buy how it's so easy for Klaatu to forget that.
Keanu claims that what happens is that he 'becomes human' a little bit … being around these two people influences and changes him. But why not dismiss Keanu as a big softie who sees the world through rose-tinted glasses and thinks that everyone should just get along, and rather say that Klaatu is infected and brought down by our irrationality and stupidity … the very qualities that have led us to destroy our own biosphere. Oh, the irony, the crippling irony!! IMO the movie would have been much better if it had introduced this element towards the end, and not just had Klaatu save us because … oh yeah … We can change! We can!
The Connelly character keeps saying this. We can change! We can! So annoying. Because, being a brilliant scientist, she should realize the obvious – sure, it’s quite possible that we can change. But we all know that we won't. Deep down, we do all know this. But let's soothe our fears with more irrationality, that'll make it all better. Yeah, right.
Anyway … since Derrickson is so religious, I was a little worried that this would turn out to be a total all-hail-the-mighty-Messiah kind of xian fundie thing. But it’s not. It got me to thinking less about Christ, actually, and more about Obama. (We can change! Yes we can!) There's a scene where the Bates character tries to persuade the president (who is of course in hiding and never seen) that another attack is not a good idea. But obviously he metaphorically shoots her down. I had to whisper to Anéa, Now you know that that's not Barack Obama she's got on the line there. ;-) They've gone surprisingly easy on the religious overtones. All to the good.
So … I don't buy the morale in this story, which is that we can change, it's not too late, and we're all good people really. Fact check: No we won't, yes it is, and we suck. It's so stupid: The Cleese character explains to the creature that it's only at the tipping point, the precipice, that people really make the necessary changes. The creature accepts this so-called logic and saves us. But isn't the whole point of the tipping point theory that when we get that far, it's too late!! The ending was a letdown, because it made no sense that he saved us. He either should have exterminated us or, if there must be a 'happy' ending, he should only have saved us because we scrambled his brain. But no, happy happy is the only way to go. Yuck.
But it was a spectacular sight and definitely worth seeing. As you can tell ;-) it did get me to thinking. There are some really good performances, some fantastic SFX, and – dare I say it – something we should all think about in this crazy fucked up world of ours. Where do we go from here, ekcetra ...
Run, it will crush you ... !!
2 days ago