Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On The Day Stood Still movie

The movie is a remake of a 1951 cult favorite and varied little from the basic premise: a galaxy-wide confederation of societies have decided that humanity must die to save the earth. Even the android resembles the original rendition except that the latest one is several stories high. Having established all that, I now want to discuss my issues with the movie.

The movie is so formulaic – the conflict is quickly resolved when the doe-eyed and pretty (and impossibly learned) heroine begs the aliens at the last minute to save the earth and he, no big surprise here, relents - moved as he is by her compassion and selflessness. There is no room for the normal cycle of denial-anger-remorse-acceptance – the heroine buys into the situation and the alien story from the get-go. It helps of course that the alien took on the form of Keanu Reeves. Imagine then if he looked like an Aeta – they would’ve eviscerated him as soon as he emerged from the sloughed-off skin suit.

The plot is also incredulously thin. Within the span of twenty-four hours, humanity goes from condemned to redeemed, albeit in a Luddite-ian state. Pretty please has changed the mind of the ambassador of alien societies, all of whom have been convinced by seventy years of observation using “plains-clothes” agents, that we are irreversibly damaged and therefore, ripe for annihilation. If only real-world negotiations and diplomacy were as straight-forward as in the movie – Afghanistan would be at peace before the hukka burns out and the Korean Peninsula would be united, disarmed and transformed into the third largest movie-producing society after the U.S. and India in a fortnight. Really now?

And what about the parallel story of the mother and step-son? Is the post-election fever supposed to drive ticket sales up at the prospect of mainstreaming cross-racial relations? Will Smith's boy acts and projects well but this storyline is an unwelcome distraction.

Gort, for me, is the sole mitigating item of the movie. A 60-storey robot that dissolves into metallic nano-insects - how truly cool is that?! And that moving eye - what Kitt would have switched into if he was a Transformer - but in mercury-silver. Awesome!

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