The Day the Earth Stood Still

Hmmm... Have you seen the 1951 original? The black and white version with Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie? There is something about being a part of a groundbreaking idea, a revolutionary way of thinking, a new type of film-making, that is so delectable. Everything after that seems a little derivative, doesn't it?

Do you want to know what we talked about as we exited the IMAX last night? ...about Product Placement for crying out loud! Does that tell you anything? On the other hand, this movie has awesome Computer Generated Imaging! If the CGI was omitted, we would be left with just another diatribe about learning to get along ...or the need to protect the environment ...or change...

We know the story. The alien thingy...this time a ball of unknown substance... impervious to our best shots... source of xenophobic panic...(and for good reason, it turns out), lands in Central Park. Other identical spheres land all over the world, starting a global panic, complete with riots, food shortages and mass hysteria. The President and Vice President are taken to shelters and Kathy Bates ("Titanic" and "P.S., I Love You") has to call the shots as Secretary of Defense.

Keanu Reeves ("Matrix" and "The Lake House") is perfect as Klaatu, who is shot by a trigger-happy soldier as he exits his UFO...the one in Central Park. He is taken to a medical facility where he escapes and contacts Jennifer Connelly ("A Beautiful Mind" and "Blood Diamond"), who stretches our credibility as the only molecular biologist who is capable of representing the U.S. in this pending disaster. She's a widow, raising a nine-year-old stepson - the child of her deceased military husband - beautifully played by Jaden Smith ("The Pursuit of Happyness"). Yes, he's Will Smith's son. The boy embodies the best "arc," as he first wants to kill the alien, then wants to defend him; in addition, he ultimately bonds with his stepmom.

Klaatu tells her that he is here to save Earth, which means he must destroy mankind, so Earth can thrive once again. She tells him "We can change!" Swayed by a compelling chat with a Nobel Prize winning scientist, played by John Cleese, they relish the common language of mathematics.

This review didn't go out last night because I had to ponder it awhile. I finally concluded that our younger generations are so reluctant to watch black and white movies, they miss out on many classics. This is probably as close as they will get to the original, so...