Every once in a while, somebody tries to recapture the genie in a bottle that was “Sci-Fi Movies in the 50s”. It’s not an easy task. Ask today’s “sophisticated” audiences, and they’ll tell you that one of the reasons “campy” movies like Forbidden Planet and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers worked so well in the 50s is that people simply didn’t know any better. They didn’t know what would one day be possible in a post-CGI world, and therefore embraced the best they could get.
As we sit and wait for the visual extravaganza that will be Terminator: Salvation this year, it’s easy to dismiss a movie like the original The Day the Earth Stood Still as simple and unexciting by comparison. After all, it’s in black and white, and the special effects are so OBVIOUS, and the alien looks like a normal man. And yet, while I haven’t seen it yet, by most accounts the 2008 remake starring Keanu Reeves was a huge letdown … despite being in color and having a multi-million dollar special effects budget. Likewise, I personally wasn’t all that impressed with Spielberg’s CGI-laden 2005 retelling of The War of the Worlds. Bigger and fancier doesn’t always equate to better.
All of which is my pretense for talking about an independent flick due out later this year, called Alien Trespass, produced and directed by X-Files alum R.W. Goodwin.
“Klaatu barada nikto.” Either you know what that means, or you don’t. If you do, odds are you’ve seen The Day the Earth Stood Still — the 1951 movie starring Michael Rennie and Patrica Neal, about an alien (Klaatu) and a robot (Gort) who come to Earth to teach the human race a lesson about not killing each other. If you don’t and/or you haven’t, then your first exposure to this story might be the Keanu Reeves remake due to hit the screens in a couple of weeks. Which may suck, or may be great … but it won’t be the original.
So if you haven’t seen it, or you want to see it again, you can watch it here, free of charge.
Then head over to the The Crotchety Old Fan website, and let him know that I’ve done my part to keep the original alive. I can’t say I agree with COF that remakes like this are completely unnecessary. If a raw story is powerful enough, I don’t think it hurts to re-frame it for a new generation now and then, and see if you can make it resonate for them. Just look at how many times A Christmas Carol has been reborn.
But I do agree that it would be a shame if the new HD color version with the snazzy CGI effects makes people forget about the classic version, which told the story perfectly well fifty years ago, with a budget and special effects that even today’s independent filmmakers would be hard pressed to work with.