Sunday, 14 October 2012

Exploding Helicopter - The Day The Earth Stood Still

Keanu Reeves is an artist who divides opinion. Some say he is a sh*t actor with the emotional range of a pork pie and the personality of an Easter Island statue whilst other more generous critics merely refer to him as “b*llocks”. Whichever side of the fence you reside, it is surely a mystery how the man has managed to cultivate such a long and illustrious career (whose zenith is still arguably Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) with a delivery as flat as Keira Knightley’s chest.

His ability to act with an almost zombie-like detachment was probably what drew casting directors to award him the part of the robotic alien Klaatu in Scott Derrickson’s remake of the B-movie classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

As usual humans are raping the Earth and Keanu and his tree-hugging alien chums touch down to wipe our destructive asses off the planet in order to preserve the Earth’s unique flora and fauna for the benefit of…well, no one.

After landing in Central Park and meeting a hostile welcoming committee of stereotypical hoo-ha-ing marines who set about interrogating Kuaatu Guantanamo style he wisely uses his powers to escape with reluctant scientist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) in order to decide mankind’s ultimate fate.

Dr Benson attempts to change Klaatu’s mind about wiping us out by taking him deep into the forest to see Nobel prize winning Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) who persuades him that we aren’t all bad eggs and that mankind has the capacity to change. Just as he is about to buy that baloney Dr Benson’s bratish stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith) proves mankind is mainly made up of scum by grassing him up to the cops and leading them to their hideout.

A pair of police choppers looms over the tree line and home in on Klaatu. Before they mow him down he uses his powers of telekinesis/bad acting to fry the helicopters circuitry causing the pilots to clutch the sides of their heads as their telecoms unit malfunctions in a cacophony of high pitched interference. With the pilots disabled their helicopters go into a traditional tailspin and smash into each other and break apart. The debris plummets to the ground and goes up in a delicious ball of flame.

Artistic merit

The film is chock full of choppers so it was only a matter of time before one went to helicopter heaven. The explosion here is nicely realised with some rich and satisfying oranges and is all the more impressive for silhouetting Reeves in a Hugh Jackman in X-Men style. It would have been nice to see the wreckage hit the floor but there is no doubt about the twin chopper’s shared demise.

Exploding helicopter innovation

Helicopters destroyed by alien mind control. This is quite an unconventional takedown.

Do passengers survive?

We don’t know for sure as Derrickson refrains from showing us the impact of the stricken choppers on the ground but chances are the pilots are barbecued to a crisp in the chunky fireball.


For a film that relies so heavily on special effects it is just as well Weta Digital at least make the visuals plausible. I particularly liked the swarms of tiny nano-machines programmed to wipe out every man made device to bring the earth back to its natural state. My office could do with that sort of deep clean.

Oh, and James Hong (Big Trouble In Little China) turns up for a cameo in a bizarre scene in McDonalds which only really succeeds in reminding you that this film isn’t as good as other films he has been in.


The film has very few interesting elements to distract you from its pedestrian plot full of genre clich├ęs, product placement and forgettable performances. It is a by-the-numbers blockbuster lacking wit or imagination and ends up being a bit preachy and up its own a*se.

Substituting the original film’s anti-war message for the remake’s environmentalist guff really doesn’t wash within the parameters of the original story and by the end you really don’t care if the world’s population lives or dies.

I was forced to watch this film due to contractual obligations imposed by the perverted hierarchy at Exploding Helicopter H.Q. It was either watch this and write a half-arsed review or engage in sexual activity (not the good kind) with a senior member of staff. If anyone knows any good employment lawyers please email me their details.

Favourite Quote:

Helen Benson: Have you done your homework?

Jacob Benson: School's cancelled on account of the aliens.

Interesting Fact:

A photo of GORT the humanoid robot and Klaatu's purveyor of destruction alongside Ringo Starr dressed as Klaatu graces the cover of Ringo’s 1974 Goodnight Vienna album. Rumour that purchasers of said album wanted the world to end after hearing it could not be verified at the time of going to press.

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