Okay so it’s raining canines and felines outside, my wife won’t be home till late because of PTA, and I still got some free movies on my Regal Cinemas gift card left over from Christmas. I figured today would be a good day to catch up on some movies, so I headed up to Salisbury for a one-two punch of Valkyrie and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Valkyrie is all about how badly Tom Cruise wants an Oscar. Remember the last time he played a soldier who got severely handicapped in the line of duty? Yep, that was Born on the 4th of July and Tomboy was so good in that one that it nabbed him an Academy Award nomination. This time out, you can tell he really wants to win because he’s playing a GERMAN soldier in this one. The bad news is that he ain’t quite as good as he was in Born and Bryan Singer sure as shit ain’t no Oliver Stone neither. On the bright side though, Valkyrie ain’t a half bad flick. It’s no Cocktail or anything, but it’s still pretty decent.
Basically what we got is Tom Cruise is this Nazi colonel who really isn’t a bad guy. He wants to kill Adolf Hitler, so immediately he’s our hero. About five minutes into the picture though he gets a bunch of bullets to the gizzard and ends up losing an eye, a hand, and two fingers. So now he REALLY hates Hitler (although to be fair, it seems like the Nazis had a really good health benefits package because they patched Tom up rather well and gave him a glass eye and stuff) and he gets Dr. Frankenstein, Davy Jones and General Zod to help him try to figure out a way to assassinate Der Fuhrer.
If you know your WWII history, you know that Cruise’s plan didn’t work out. Since we already know the outcome, it kinda limits the suspense. All the plotting and scheming during the first half of the movie is involving, but once the plan is carried out, the last half hour or so of the movie just kinda sits there like a dead hooker. Still, if you ever wanted to see Tom Cruise play a one-eyed, three-fingered Nazi, here’s your chance. (The scene where he gives the old “Heil Hitler” salute with his stump is particularly amusing.)
I also dug the Movie Logic of the film when it came to letting Tom Cruise use his American accent. The movie starts off with Cruise actually speaking German for like a minute until he slowly goes into his native tongue. Likewise all the British actors speak in English accents and no one in the cast ever ATTEMPTS anything that remotely sounds like a German accent. Some audience members may cry foul at this but at least you don’t have to worry about Cruise using and losing his accent a la Kevin Costner in Robin Hood.
Next up, I checked out the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Usually I hate remakes on general principals, but I still watch them with an open mind. I mean you never know when you’re gonna get a quality flick like The Blob or Dawn of the Dead, so you got to keep an open mind about this shit. Sadly, the new The Day the Earth Stood Still is about on par with last year’s The Invasion as far as crappy millennial remakes of 50’s Sci-Fi classics go.
The plot is more or less the same as the original. An alien named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) comes to Earth saying he’s going to blow it up then he has a change of heart because he likes humans and stuff. This time though he wants to blow us up not because we can make A-Bombs and shit, but because we’re polluting the heck out of the planet.
You know, the original flick was never my favorite Sci-Fi movie or anything, but I remember really enjoying it when I was like seven or whenever the Hell the last time I saw it. I thought going into this one that there was some room for interpretation and since Scott Derrickson, who did the excellent The Exorcism of Emily Rose, was behind the camera, I had high hopes. Unfortunately during the course of the flick, it dawned on me that Derrickson also directed the suck-ass Hellraiser: Inferno too. Day is closer to Hellraiser 5 than Emily Rose because it takes an initially good premise, does Jack Shit with it, and gives us a totally lame ass ending.
That’s not the worst of the movie’s problems. The set-up is boring as fuck and is filmed and acted with all the conviction of a Sci-Fi Channel Original. Plus GORT, Klaatu’s cool looking robot is given very little screen time. Even worse is the fact that when GORT wants to destroy something, he stupidly turns into a mass of robo-bees instead of using his badass laser beams. And even then he doesn’t do much destruction. Seriously, he’s given the order to destroy the world and all he does it go after an 18 wheeler and Giants Stadium. HUH?
The shittiest thing about the movie though is Jaden Smith as the snot nosed little brat who along with his stepmother (Jennifer Connelly, looking damn fine) hangs around Klaatu like a whiny ass punk. The low point of the movie is when that little fucker calls the cops on Klaatu. The Feds come and kidnap his mama and him and Klaatu are just kinda sitting there and the kid asks, “Can you take me home?” Motherfucker, your dumb ass just got your mom incarcerated, your extra-terrestrial buddy in hot water, and you threatened the lives on everyone on the planet; and now all of a sudden you want a ride home? Catch the bus, you fucking brat.
There is a reason to watch this flick though and his name is Keanu Reeves. I don’t know when I started digging Keanu, but I highly enjoyed him in this flick. In just about all of his movies, Reeves always moved, acted, and sounded like he just figured out how his body worked the day before. Here, that’s literally what happens to his character. He’s an alien trapped in a man’s body and Keanu really sells it for all it’s worth. He also does some of his finest acting against a CGI whirlwind since
You have to really like his portrayal of Klaatu. I mean here he is, a stranger on Earth who wants to blow it all up (or sick his robo-bees on it, whichever comes first), and he listens to Bach, eats some McDonald’s, and gets to hang out with John Cleese, and then he’s like, “Dude, Earth is cool! I’m not going to nuke it now!” Of course, we have to have that dumb ass scene where Smith and Connelly cry over the kid’s father’s grave, so Klaatu can say “I see another side to you now. You are worth saving,” though. That’s okay. We the audience really know that Klaatu isn’t blowing up the Earth because of that Lifetime Channel bullshit he saw at the cemetery, but because of the majesty of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
All in all, it was a pretty good day at the movies. Neither flick was all that great, but at least they didn’t completely suck or anything.