A big, dopey, old-fashioned, science-fiction disaster movie – which is odd, because its 1951
predecessor was anything but. Like the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, this gets political, but the message basically boils down to: Recycle, or the aliens will come and get you. That’s the basic explanation Keanu Reeves gives as Klaatu, an alien who lands a giant glowing orb – this movie has a lot of giant glowing orbs – in Central Park. It seems extraterrestrial civilizations have been monitoring our care for the planet, and what with global warming, deforestation and the like, they think it’s time for new caretakers. The alien invasion results in the sort of science-fiction hullabaloo we’ve seen in movies since long before 1951: military units are mobilized; scientists convene (including Jennifer Connelly as Dr. Helen Benson); and world leaders try to maintain a sense of control. It’s all exceedingly boring, even if much of it has been spruced up with computer-generated effects. This time around, Gort – Klaatu’s bodyguard robot – is a slick, computer-generated giant. Immaterial and impersonal, the character is nowhere near as endearing as the aluminum-foil original.