Having sat through the remake of the classic SciFi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, I am compelled to set up a warning beacon for those who have yet to see this movie.

Here is the warning- While it may be worth seeing on a big screen, it is definitely not worth the full price of admission. If your local cineplex offers discount tickets for afternoon shows, take the opportunity to see it then. Also, be sure to sneak in as many concession snacks as possible. You want to keep your financial investment in this movie to a bare minimum.

First, a few words about Keanu Reeves. Much like John Wayne, Reeves seems to have a single character that he portrays in every film. In this movie, it’s “Reeves plays Klaatu”.  I will say that Reeves portrayal of Klaatu is fine- his trademark deadpan delivery works well for the part. 

Jennifer Connelly plays Dr. Helen Benson, an astrobiologist who is swept into action by mysterious people with Chinook helicopters. Her part is poorly written and suffers from excessive cliche. Character development is weak as is emotional buy-in. 

Stepchild  Jacob Benson, played by Jaden Smith, is an impish, totally gratuitous angry stepchild trapped in a love-less domestic truce with stepmom Connelly. Smith’s part was poorly written and directed as well. There is little or no opportunity to emotionally connect with his character.

The blackboard scene with John Cleese was conducted like a checkers match rather than a brainstorming session. It was lifeless and unconvincing.  This is one of the few serious roles played by Cleese and I believe it is a step down from Basil Fawlty.

Emotional connection is the lost key to this movie. It is actually part of the plot construction. The movie demands the viewer to accept that Connelly and Smith emotionally connect with Klaatu, but the direction and writing of the movie fails to bridge that gap convincingly or even connect the viewer to the characters.

This movie is written like a class project in preparation for midterm exams in a Cinema 205 course. Cliche parts and story telling devices were taken off the shelf and snapped together.  While I will give a passing grade on cinematography and effects, it is a sophomoric exercise in movie writing.

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