“Oh, Oh, Oh, what a little remake can do, do, do!” This version of a time-honored sci-fi classic not only insults the Robert Wise 1951 original, but ravages the story by turning Klaatu’s original spaceship into a replica of dozens of orbs (resembling trademarks for a world encyclopedia), actually filled with various animals collected from their earthly homes in order to protect as many as possible of earth’s living species from potential destruction by a flying plague of metal and flesh eating little nano machines.
Why? Because humans are bad and destroying the planet beyond redemption. And if earthly ambitions are not enough, we have the traffic on I-95 into Manhattan once the emergency teams closes the inbound lanes enabling SUV's to get chosen scientists to a downtown meeting. Obviously, helicopters would have served a better purose (and probably used less gas).
If you remember the original ship was piloted by an advanced civilization that could land a ship on the Washington Mall without raising one speck of dust. This ship chooses Manhattan's Central Park, landing in the midst of a dust storm right out of Iraq.
You might also remember the reasons behind the original title? It represents Klaatu's power to stop all electrical motion on earth (except for flying planes and hospital operating rooms). This time around there is no explanation of the title except that the nano-plague is halted as Klaatu enters his orb to fly away somewhere out there.
The original story is so mangled (and simplified) in order to allow time for computer generated effects (CGE) that about all we know is Dr. Helen Benson (Connelly) at the age of 38 must have an IQ higher than Reeves’ 118 (that's what he admits to), in order to garner the knowledge she must have to deal with aliens on the order of Klaatu and Gort (Gort was originally the robot’s intergalactic name but now renamed by contemporary members of the President’s Science Team as GORT or Genetically Organized Replicant Transporter).
And judging by the actions of the Secretary of Defense (acting for the President), Klaatu’s perceptions are right on. After all, the only way to win against an otherworldly force is to salute it with an atomic bomb.
There are a number of blatant product placements, the worst being the Window’s Logo that appears when the Pentagon signs in, followed by Honda, Pioneer, and the American flag resplendent in the Secretary of Defense’s lapel, a part done to a turn by Kathy Bates who actually has a Sarah Palen hairdo.
Oh, the kid Jacob is a spoiled brat and probably was coached by the spirits of production to lend a bit of spirit to this un-thrilling and entirely predictable remake of a sci-fi classic.
Remember the Nobel lauraete originally played by Sam Jaffe? This time the part has been reduced to about two minutes and stars John Cleese, playing a scientist who lives in a house that salutes the best of the 1950s, who listens to Bach, and won a Nobel Prize for something called altruistic biology. Yes, the plot has more holes that an errant robot with a fully charged universal drill in his hands confronted by two acres of plywood.
The two stars I granted this production was entirely for the CGE and aside from John Cleese and Kathy Bates, the acting is on a par with Pinocchio before his nose began to grow.