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Blood Splattered Cinema
Hosted by: Horror Guru
The Horror Guru reviews the bloodiest, wildest, and weirdest horror that cinema has to offer!
Cartoon Palooza
Hosted by: Joey Tedesco
A satirical review show where a guy from Jersey watches and criticizes cartoons, including everything from comic books to animated movies. Whatever it is, Joey will either tell you to run out and see it... or fughetabouit!
The Count Jackula Show
Hosted by: Count Jackula
There are vampires, and there are men from outer space, but there is only one vampire from outer space! Join Count Jackula from the Planet Drakula as he explains the ins and outs of horror, from the mythic to the modern. Blood, off-color humor, and an obsession with Elvira are in store for you!
The Examined Life (of Gaming)
Hosted by: Roland Thompson
Just when video games were getting good, the late '90s and early '00s came along. The Examined Life (of Gaming) dares to delve into the good, the bad, and the value-priced games of this dark period, and sometimes we find something worth playing!
The Film Renegado
Hosted by: Film Renegado
Coming to you from south of the border, it's the Film Renegado! A civil engineer with a cinephile complex, the Film Renegado uses movies made in Mexico or by Mexican directors to share bits from his country's culture, past and present. You will both learn and be entertained! How cool is that?
Friday Night Fright Flicks
Hosted by: Count Jackula & Horror Guru
Welcome, fright knights, to Friday Night Fright Flicks! Join your hosts Count Jackula and the Horror Guru as they stumble their way through current horror releases, letting you know which ones are worth the price of admission.
Good Bad Flicks
Hosted by: Cecil Trachenburg
Good Bad Flicks is a show not only dedicated to rare movies, but also forgotten classics and misunderstood box office bombs. Your host Cecil takes you through each movie, discussing the promotional materials, and taking a look at what went on behind the scenes. With a healthy dose of Irish sarcasm, he throws a few jabs at even his most cherished favorites.
The Graphic Novel Picture Show
Hosted by: Sybil Pandemic
Your host Solkir presents The Graphic Novel Picture Show, a retrospective of the history of comic book movies!
The Movie Skewer
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From the makers of the Agony Booth™ comes The Movie Skewer, where terrible movies are roasted over an open flame for your enjoyment. Watch the very first online review/recap series that’s too much for one host to handle!
Mr. Mendo's Hack Attack
Hosted by: Michael A. Novelli
Need a healthy dose of cynicism from a guy whose face you can barely see? Then Mr. Mendo’s your man! Whether a movie suffers from Hype Backlash, Intellectual Dishonesty, or is just Complete Shit, Mr. Mendo is there. Mr. Mendo wasn‘t raised in this country, so he takes nothing for granted: if something ain‘t right, he’ll nose it out. So join him as he takes on Oscar winners and legendary flops alike in front of a blanket suspended between his couch and recliner!
Stuff You Like
Hosted by: Sursum Ursa
Stuff You Like is an original show where redhead Sursum Ursa waxes enthusiastic about movies, TV shows, and anything else that comes to mind! Expect singing, snarky subtitles, random pictures she finds on the internet, and lots of fangirling!
Terror Obscura
Hosted by: Fear Fan
Terror Obscura is a show dedicated to exploring the best and worst horror films ever made. While some shows are content to just mock bad films, this one isn't afraid to take even the most sacred of cows to the slaughterhouse. If you like horror, humor, or if you're just looking to find some titles you might want to rent, Terror Obscura is the show for you!
Tom's Retrophilia
Hosted by: Thomas Stockel
Is he a connoisseur of vintage media, or just a bitter old man trapped in the past?  Either way, tune in and watch Tom take a look at the movies and television shows from a time when he was actually in the target audience!
The Unusual Suspect
Hosted by: Unusual Suspect
The Unusual Suspect reviews popular movies, and tears 'em apart! They may be good, but no movie is perfect, and there's always things you may have overlooked and hadn't thought about. So join the Suspect as he exploits and ridicules the films you know and love. Just don't kill him for it!
What We Had to Watch
Hosted by: Il Neige
Il Neige is a smart-ass with a love-hate relationship with movies from the new millennium. Sure, reviews can be fun or cathartic, but there's also the risk of the occasional Twi-hard invasion or fireball to the face! ...That's how these things usually go, right? So join Il Neige as he braves the cinematic dangers that lie just beyond the fourth wall to critique the best and worst of 21st century filmmaking!
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the agony booth

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Posted on: Jan 26, 2009.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The Cast of Characters:
Keanu Reeves as KlaatuKlaatu (Keanu Reeves). A dead-eyed alien who's come here to wipe out humanity. Has second thoughts after watching a hot scientist hug her bratty kid. To be fair, lots of people have been distracted from what they were doing by Jennifer Connelly.
Jennifer Connelly as Helen BensonHelen Benson (Jennifer Connelly). An exobiologist, and the only person on the planet who thinks blowing the alien to Kingdom Come should be Plan B. Her apparently unique human compassion saves the rest of us miserable sociopaths from extinction. So... thanks, lady!
Kathy Bates as Regina JacksonRegina Jackson (Kathy Bates). The shoot-first Secretary of Defense who's made out to be the bad guy for the middle third of the movie, even though she's right about Klaatu's plans for us. This movie's Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross.
Jaden Smith as Jacob BensonJacob Benson (Jaden Smith). Helen Benson's surly stepson. Calls her "Helen" at first, setting up the inevitable scene at the end of the movie when he—but no, I couldn't possibly spoil the surprise here.
John Cleese as Professor BarnhardtProfessor Barnhardt (John Cleese). A Really Perceptive Scientist. Helen brings Klaatu to meet him for... some reason.


Welcome to the fifth installment of Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition! In this special series of mini-recaps, the Agony Booth staff takes a long, unflinching look at the awful movies that got nominated (or should have been nominated) for Razzie Awards in 2009!

Check out the other recaps in this series: The Love Guru by Ed Harris, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Ryan Lohner, 10,000 B.C. by Jessica Ritchey, The Hottie & the Nottie by Albert!


The article continues after this advertisement...

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is a milestone of science fiction. Director Robert Wise (West Side Story) used stark lighting and a powerful, detached performance by Michael Rennie to underline a crisis facing humanity, which ultimately was not the alien, Klaatu, but the pettiness, greed, and mutually destructive paranoia of humanity itself. Full of unforgettable imagery—a hatch emerging from a seamless spaceship, the faceless humanoid robot Gort representing Klaatu's creepily passive alien menace, Patricia Neal commanding Gort to save its master—the 1951 film elevated the alien-monster movie into the function for which science fiction was created, as a medium for the exploration of humanity's soul and what we're currently doing with it.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), meanwhile, is a big, loud, post-Roland Emmerich special-effects movie which, apparently purely by coincidence, happens to have the same name. Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) used an expansive computer graphics budget and a powerfully soporific performance by Keanu Reeves to create lots of soft-focus swirly colors on the screen, and some really cool licorice bugs.

Full of imagery that makes you remember other, more interesting movies—Keanu Reeves in a suit being interrogated in an empty room, teary-eyed Jennifer Connolly convincing a guy with powers to use them to save humanity, malevolent insects completely annihilating solid objects, Will Smith's real-life son talking about how his dad would have killed the aliens—the 2008 version joins the ranks of any number of recent sci-fi blockbusters that collectively diminish the potential of science fiction by remaking classic films as sterile, computer-generated exercises in Hollywood formula.

In discussing the very goofy 2008 film called The Day the Earth Stood Still, I won't be making a lot of snide references to its deviations from the earlier version—much as I would love to—because there's really no point of comparison. They both have a tall, dark-haired alien named Klaatu, and a robot named Gort, and—yup, that's it. Let's put it this way. When they remade Lost Horizon, but converted it into a Burt Barcharach/Hal David musical of stunning banality, it was still ten times closer to the original that this film is to its predecessor.

Caption contributed by Scooter
Klaatu learns he'll be played by Keanu Reeves in the remake.

They didn't even throw us a bone the way they did with The Incredible Hulk, giving us links to classic lines from the source material: which is to say, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) does not use the line "Klaatu barada nikto", the command that Patricia Neal used to get Gort to stop destroying the Earth and save Klaatu, with its original meaning or impact. It's the best-known line from the original film, possibly "the most famous phrase ever spoken by an extraterrestrial", but it's barely in the "remake", because the whole scenario in which the line originally arose has been junked in the new movie. Which, really, says it all. I'll call this Klaatu's Law: Remaking a classic movie somehow necessitates siphoning away anything that made it special in the first place.

The movie opens by sliding down from a starry sky into in some sort of snow-swirled mountainside that looks like the back exit to the Gulag Rura Penthe. A caption tells us this is 1928, in the Karakoram Mountains in India. For those of you who don't know, which I assume is everybody in America (including me—I looked it up), this is the mountain range next-door to the Himalayas, home to the second-highest peak in the world, K2. This being the remake, maybe there are some subtle associations being made with the number two here. Perhaps on multiple levels.

Inside a tent, we spend a long moment pondering the back of a mountaineer's head, before getting the stupid reveal that—gasp!—it's Keanu Reeves! With a big Smith Brothers beard! What, did he refuse to shave it? Keanu wanders out of his tent and, giving us an early harbinger of his performance in this movie, slowly stares empty-eyed up at a glowy light atop a nearby cliff as if he's baked out of his mind.

Caption contributed by Scooter
A scene from Brigham Young: The Arctic Years.

Keanu climbs the cliff and finds the source of the glowy light, which turns out to be a six-foot tall snowball with pretty flashing lights inside. Hey, Sargon finally made it to Earth! And he got a bigger crib, which is nice. On seeing this beautiful apparition in the midst of this icy wasteland, Keanu's first impulse is to... hit it with his pick-axe. Of course. Why is it the aliens always think we're the violent idiots, again?

It turns out there's an inch or so of ice surrounding what's actually making the lights: a swirly CGI sphere with colored streaks sliding clockwise around the surface, like a glowing, animated marble. Wow, I had no idea palantirs came so big.

Caption contributed by Scooter

The glow expands to fill the screen, creating a sudden momentary fear that the rest of the movie will be narrated by Justin Timberlake. But after a moment the glow fades. Hilariously, the movie teases us into thinking the swirly sphere ate Keanu Reeves, by showing us just the pick-axe at first. Then it pans to reveal Keanu is still alive (boo!), sprawled in the snow, with a hole in his right mitten over the back of his hand.

Keanu wakes up, relatively speaking, and notices in succession that the swirly sphere is gone and that his mitten has been defiled. He looks placidly at the place where the sphere had been, then he pulls off his mitten and looks placidly at a big square welt on the back of his hand, then he looks placidly up at the sky. The scene ends before we can watch him look at the snow, and his shoe, and a rock that's right there nearby, before wandering back to his tent to write in his journal: "Nov. 23, 1928. There was a glowy light on top of the cliff today. Went to look at it. It bit my hand. Hand looks funny now. Also, nearly out of chamomile. Will have to switch to Quaaludes soon."

Caption contributed by Scooter
"Huh. There seems to be a strange object at the end of—I guess I'll call it my 'arm'. I wonder if it will be friends with me?"

Well, that was fun, watching Keanu Reeves look at things and say nothing. So far, he's attained a level of cognition roughly on par with my dog, Chiyo, who is also really good at looking at things and saying nothing. It's her special skill. That, and ruthlessly excavating and mangling plush toy squeakers.

So apparently the purpose of this sequence is to explain why Klaatu, when he shows up, will look like Keanu Reeves: the aliens stole some DNA from Mountaineer Keanu and used it as the basis for the human form that Klaatu takes—though why they sent their swirly-sphere-DNA-collector to one of the remotest, most inhospitable regions on Earth is not exactly clear to me. Anyway, I'm sure that's why the movie provided this prologue, and not to remind us that Keanu Reeves is a glassy-eyed, slack-jawed, inarticulate zombie. Well, how could we possibly forget?

Honestly, this movie should be called The Day Keanu Reeves Stood Still and Looked at Things.

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