Rating: 2 stars
What possessed Keanu Reeves to accept the role of Klaatu, the alien who arrives with his giant robot buddy on the planet Earth with big plans to save our planet by annihilating its inhabitants? Hasn’t Keanu heard enough times in his career that his acting is flat and robotic? Does he really want to give his critics ammunition by playing a part only a few syllables removed from “Take me to your leaders”? (In this case, he’s referring to the U.N.)
I guess I sort of see why 20th Century Fox decided to remake this classic sci-fi. Back in 1951, Klaatu was intent on saving the earth from the Cold War. Today, he wants to save it from global warming. He’s Al Gore From Another Planet.
But the film’s sensibility still seems rooted in the '50s. It’s a square, slightly wonky movie. Today’s action/sci-fi films are winking, fast-paced adrenaline rushes, a la Transformers or Iron Man. But Keanu’s Klaatu, aided by physicist babe Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly) and her impossibly adorable step-son Jacob (Jayden Smith, Will and Jada’s kid), is slow and methodical. The film is presented in the IMAX format, but the special effects aren’t even that good. The film’s coolest bit happens at the end, when the giant robot dissolves into millions of heat-seeking, cannibalizing metal bugs. More of that, and less of Keanu’s poker-faced pondering would’ve gone a long way.