Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Director: Scott Derrickson
Running time: 99 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 12A

UK Release Date: 12th December 2008

Watched on DVD Wednesday 31st March 2010.


Based on the original 1951 classic Sci-Fi movie of the same name, this film tries to update the story and, unfortunately, falls short of the mark IMHO. It’s not all bad though; there are some interesting differences in the plot that give it a bit more edge than the original. The setting is New York, the present day…

Dr Helen Benson, an astrobiologist at Princeton University, is taken by the military, leaving her stepson, Jacob, behind. She is taken, with other scientists, to a base where they are told of an object in space headed towards the Earth and due to hit Manhattan very soon. Waiting in helicopters (not a good idea IMHO), they brace for the impact. It never arrives; instead a glowing sphere gently lands in Central Park. The scientists and the military arrive quickly and, when a humanoid form starts to emerge from the sphere, one of the soldiers shoots and injures him. A giant robot-like creature emerges and begins to harm the soldiers, but is stopped by the humanoid. They take the humanoid to a nearby facility which appears to be a school. Here they remove the bullet and discover that the alien has taken human form and is growing rapidly. Dr Benson seems to have a rapport with him. While recovering he is interviewed by Regina Jackson, the United States Secretary of Defence. He tells them his name is Klaatu and that he is a representative of a group of alien races sent to talk to the world leaders. The Secretary wants to keep Klaatu secret and orders Dr Benson to sedate him so he can be moved to a more secure facility. Dr Benson disobeys and helps Klaatu escape. Meeting up outside and on the run, with young Jacob in tow, Dr Benson eventually finds out why Klaatu has arrived on Earth and is shocked to hear that he is there to destroy mankind in order to save the planet. I’ll leave my little synopsis there on that bombshell.

First of all, I must say the special effects are pretty spectacular, there is gratuitous use of CGI and it’s all very well done. Decent performances from most of the main cast, honourable mentions go to Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, Jennifer Connelly as Helen Benson, John Cleese as Professor Barnhardt and Jon Hamm as Michael Granier. I don’t usually point out performances that fell short of the mark, but I feel that both Kathy Bates as Regina Jackson and Jaden Smith as Jacob Benson were totally miscast.

In theory this should have been a really great film, the story was really strong but I felt the execution left a lot to be desired. It seemed that everything was far too rushed; you never got the time to engage with any of the characters. So, over all, some great CGI and a great story that was spoiled by being far too hurried. Could have been much better and as such is not very highly recommended.

My score: 5.8/10

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