The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Day the Earth Stopped (2008)

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I'm sure we all know what movie this Asylum film was supposed to sound like. I had planned on boycotting the 2008 The Day the Earth Stood Still based on principle, but I was forced to endure it on a flight from Boston to Seattle. It's amazing that, as horrible as some of these Asylum films can be, these Hollywood blockbuster remakes of old classics can sometimes be even worse.

The Day the Earth Stopped is another C. Thomas Howell directed/acted Asylum movie. This time Howell plays an Army dude sent in with a team to investigate something that landed in the woods nearby. A naked dude is found running in the area, and he's tranquilized. Howell and his buddy are late to the scene, and find a naked woman walking in the road that they pick up. Turns out they're both aliens, and the woman is there to find out if there's anything redeemable in human kind, otherwise they'll wipe us out so we can't kill them in the future. To do this, they have a whole bunch of huge robots around the world. Anyway, this hottie has taken a shine to Howell, and they escape the Army complex she's being held in. She wants Howell to show her the value of human life, why it's important, and for some reason he has no idea what to say. So they run around, while the US government nukes Pacific Islands and tries to kill them. They have until sundown their time to make their case, otherwise we're done.

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Though this wasn't as bad as the Keanu Reeves film, it was still pretty bad. First off, who can't tell an alien what makes humans worth while? Howell's character's stupidity was astounding. And then he suddenly has a moment of perspicacity at the end that was well outside his pay grade. Second, the Pacific Island of Nairu is eradicated by a nuclear bomb in an attempt to take out one of the aliens' robots. That should've been it right there, no? The aliens should've wiped us out for that move alone. Then you have the alien hanging out with Howell. In one scene she makes a car start with her alien powers, then later, when they need a car to start so they can escape, she won't do it because "she can't interfere." Didn't someone forget to check the dailies? I expect bad special effects or bad acting, but nuking islands of 14,000 people (the film erroneously said 9,000, but that's still a lot!) and featuring a hero that doesn't understand why humans should be allowed to live, that's just stupid.

I've noticed a hallmark in Asylum films, and these C. Thomas Howell directed ones in particular, is the monologue at the end letting us know what happened after. It's like their bad movies aren't enough, now they have to tell us there's some profound message attached as well, which ends up sounding sillier than the movie. C. Thomas Howell's voice doesn't help either. I don't know if he does this gruff, overly serious thing on purpose, but he must know how ridiculous he sounds, right? It's that kind of thing that overshadows any of his good work, and keeps him out of the Hall of Fame.

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I think we have our first ever Asylum bait and switch. Judd Nelson, all over the cover, has like ten minutes of screen time, and that's near the end. I feel bad, because I know Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic has been wanting me to get more Nelson up here, and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, getting another Howell directed Asylum flick up, and a Nelson one too. Though this will be tagged for Judd Nelson, it's only so people know this is a full on Judd Nelson bait and switch. Sorry Kenner.

The woman who played the alien was very hot, which I imagine was intended. She opens the film naked, for instance. When Nauru gets nuked, it really stresses her out, so she needs to close her eyes tight, groan, and massage herself to let us know how distressing it all is. Also, her character name is Sky, not Klaatu. What is Klaatu anyway, Finnish? It looks Finnish.

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The message in the 1951 movie was we humans need to reconsider our weapons and what they'll do to ourselves. We have the power to wipe out everyone's future. I don't know what the message in this film was. Pacific Islands with populations the size of American towns big enough to have their own McDonald's are collateral damage, and acceptable losses if we can convince some aliens not to kill us? Or how about no matter how many times we prove to the alien that we are too dangerous to be allowed to live, as long as she's with C. Thomas Howell, we'll get another chance to prove ourselves? That's what made the original so good, that we'd just had two very destructive wars, and now had extremely powerful weapons at our disposal to make the next war even worse. To blow up an island with a nuke defeats the point of remaking the film.

Unlike The Land That Time Forgot, The Day the Earth Stopped doesn't do it for me. It's funny and has it's moments, and again, I liked it more than the 2008 version, but that's not saying much. It's currently available on Watch Instantly, so if you decide to take a stab at it, just know I warned you. It could hurt.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1290471/

4 comments:

  1. The Judd Nelson Bait And Switch is just plain wrong. Thankfully it doesn't happen too often.

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  2. It just hurt, because I promised you more Judd Nelson, and I thought I had it, but unfortunately, it was only me that was had, had by the bait-and-switch.

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  3. There is nothing worse though than an action star bait and switch. I still don't think Dolph got it as bad in Universal Soldier 3 (he became the main villain and used well, in fact when I rewatched it, Van Damme got it more. Hopefully next sequel which has them both will feature them in more screen time) but when something promises a team up of say Don The Dragon Wilson, Lorenzo Lamas, Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Wincott then damn it you better put them in action against one another.

    Nothing was worse than when Gary Daniels was put in Retrograde and without even a fight sequence or fight with Dolph.

    Another memorable bait and switch was with Sly Stallone in the movie Shade. They also love to do this with Eric Roberts and Michael Pare.

    Although by far the worst bait and switch was when they did so with Michael Dudikoff in Ablaze. This was just wrong on so many levels. Especially when the guy they hired was so damn lame.

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  4. I put Retrograde ahead of Ablaze in terms of worst bait and switches of all time, just because of the sheer audacity of it. Submerged with Seagal also employed a Gary Daniels bait and switch, but for me that Retrograde one was the most egregious, because so many of us were waiting for a Dolph/Daniels pairing, and we were so robbed.

    The Universal Soldier: Regeneration Dolph bait and switch was only bad because Dolph was all over the cover and in the trailers. His few scenes were great, and I loved how he channeled this Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner android existentialism; I just think all of that is betrayed by a crass marketing ploy, misrepresenting how much of him is actually in the film. Say "...and featuring Dolph Lundgren", or "a special appearance by Dolph Lundgren", and I'm perfectly fine with it.

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