Monday, September 15, 2008

Thoughts on extended TDTESS trailer

An extended trailer of The Day the Earth Stood Still previewed on FOX yesterday; for those of you who didn't catch it (or who, like me, are non-American and who have to pay for our lack of American politics with an equal lack of early-access to videos), here you go:

Has some great moments in it, but overall I'm not as hyped up over it as I would have liked to be.

I can sense a lot of potential in there. This film definitely has the potential to be really great, but somehow that held more promise when all I knew of it was a short two minute trailer. It had more mystery then; this one shows us more, takes away some of that mystery, and if the whole film continues with this same kind of standard I think I may find it a disappointment. I expect it to be sufficiently entertaining, sure, enough to make me want to catch the thing in theatres, but what I've seen so far makes me doubt that it would reach that level of all-out-awesome that I had been hoping from the time this project was announced.

I can't really put my toe (fingers are overrated and hurt from too much typing) on what's wrong, though. Maybe it's a bit of everything: I get the sense that they're holding back, a teasing sort of "we could have done this and it would have been the most amazing thing you've ever seen and made you pee in your pants, but instead we decided to show some concern for your personal hygiene and chose to do this instead, so tough luck, hahaha." Or maybe it's just me.

Because the first part of that extended trailer (and presumably the first part of the film) was great. The whole hey-look-there's-a-strange-object-in-outer-space-defying-gravitational-pull-OH-NOEZ-IT'S-COMING-TOWARDS-US!!!11 was exciting in a traditional science-fiction sort of way, the kind of thing that continues to be exciting even though it's been done over and over again.

Then the pace faltered a little when they all trooped out to go check out the landing spot of the UFO.

Here I'd admit to some personal bias - I do have some vague form of agoraphobia. Open spaces with people running about = not good. I like small confined places. I laugh at claustrophobists. My idea of a dream house is an underground, labyrinthine affair with no windows. I love being in submarines. I like being lost in buildings. The movie Cube ranks among my ten favourite of all time for its claustrophobic awesomeness. I draw the line at being buried alive, but you get the idea.

So, a bunch of scientists in radiation suits mucking about a wide open forest looking for an alien kind of killed the excitement of the earlier scenes for me, as did the later scenes again in the wide open spaces. I don't like wide open spaces. Especially in a science-fiction film, because I tend to associate sci-fi with high tech stuff - like buildings, not so much the environment, but then again this film supposedly deals partly with the environment so I see why they did that.

But then they're back in the wonderful indoors! In what I'd love to think is a vast underground secret scientific laboratory with no windows - if it turns out I'm wrong, I will be sad. And then what I currently consider the best part of that extended trailer - them trying to revive the alien in the case.

(The scene does however suffer from a lack of tentacles. When I see an alien thrashing about in a case, there's a part of me that naturally expects to see tentacles. One usually does not expect in such moments to see Keanu Reeves, or Michael Rennie for that matter; one expects TENTACLES. CTHULHU AWAKENS AND STIRS IN THE DARK.

^ See, that's the kind of thing I mean when I say this thing feels like full of untapped potential.

...I suddenly think that Tim Burton should have made this film. I would have loved to see what he would have done with it.)

But this is going off-tangent, and my personal bias should preferably not come into play here, so going back to the topic, and since this is a Keanu-themed blog, back to Keanu:

I'll admit that I had hoped for better; well maybe not better, just a different interpretation of Klaatu. Before the fish start being happy, I would add that I definitely don't think it's a matter of lack of acting ability on Keanu's part. It's just that his take on Klaatu differs from what I had in mind, though I don't really know what I had in mind. It's just... I don't know, the idea of Keanu-playing-alien could have been so much... more, and definitely within his scope, judging from past performances. That depth isn't quite reached here, though I hope that maybe it gets there over the course of the film; although as Klaatu supposedly gets gradually more human, that might not happen.

There's something that feels too toned-down about his performance in the clip, but at the same time, while watching the thing, I don't know how else he could have done it. And it's not just Keanu, because the toned-down feeling continues even when he's not on screen. So maybe it's a script problem, but the dialogue itself seems fine too.

It's frustrating.

So far the only conclusion I can reach is that the wrongness has something to do with the film editing. Maybe some parts could have been cut differently. Or... well... comma... George...


One thing is for certain, though... If anyone saw any Ted in Klaatu, they need an CAT scan. NOW.

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