Sunday, May 3, 2009

Review of The Day the Earth Stood Still

I was really looking forward to the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Now I'm really disappointed. The original was one of the best science fiction movies of all time (of the silver era it is second only to "War of the Worlds").

But don't get me wrong. There were some good special effects. Gort morphing into metal-scavenging nanobots was a nice touch. And the whole retiming of standing still of the Earth was interesting. But the new movie came off, to my own mind at least, as mere environmentalist propaganda.

Trees, it appears, are just too hugable to allow man to survive. Good science fiction raises important philosophical questions. The answers it gives to such questions are sometimes quit less than biblical. The Earth certainly is a beautiful place. Nature is truly wonderful. What is more, man has not always treated her 'mother' in the right ways. But are lions, tigers, and bears more important than humankind? Are trees and rocks more important?

I think not. The alien race, which Klaatu (and why no 'Klaatu barrada nictu' in the remake which was the central part of the original-not to mention in the third installment of the Evil Dead trilogy?) belongs to, apparently thinks so.

While it is true the alien race was preparing an ark-or many arks-it is my impression that two, or eight, men would not be aboard. The real message of the movie, of course, is that man isn't quite so bad off as we appear at first blush. And, when the going gets tough, the tough, in this case mankind, gets going, rises to the challenge, and shows how great we really are. But the underlying context is that mankind, heretofore, has been the greatest threat to the planet.

Call me a Ptolemaist, but mankind is the planet. It is the same message repeated ad nauseum on those nature shows. When Sharks Attack! When Crocodiles Attack! When Domesticated Yet Still Wild Exotic Felines Trained for Las Vegas Magic Shows Attack! You know the shows I'm talking about. "The real monster," the narrator tells us at the end, "is man. Man has done more harm to nature than all the poisonous snakes, spiders, etc. than they have done to man." What?!?! Those are just animals. The sanctity of life is the sanctity of human life. It is we alone who bare the imago dei. Where are all the tree huggers when an innocent human child is being butchered at a 'clinic'? Strangely silent.

I know, I know. I am being anal about one side issue within a much larger narrative. The movie itself was entertaining and, again, had good special effects. Apart from its perceived leftist agenda, though, I do think it did not live up to its predecessor. Not by a long shot. With John Cleese as the professor (whose enigmatic equation was solved by Klaatu, in one of the only scenes carried over from the original original) and the to-truly-halk-a-lougie guy (from Revenge of the Nerds II, if memory serves) as a clandestine apologist (for humanity, that is, not for Christianity) the movie was not all bad. There was even a sacrificial death at the end which reminds one of Neo in the Matrix-er, I mean-Jesus in the Bible. Still, I do not feel it was a particularly noteworthy movie. If I were to even consider buying this movie, though, I would get it in the special edition, and then only because it comes with a second disc which has the original version on it. I suppose the remake disc would serve well as a coaster.

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