Who’s In It: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Kyle Chandler
The Basics: Alien-in-the-form-of-Keanu arrives in New York from whatever planet he’s from. And he shows up in a giant spaceship. And he brings a huge destroy-bot with him for protection. Then the destroy-bot disables the military. You’d think that this would eliminate any shadows of doubt that he ought to be listened to and obeyed if life on Earth is to survive the environmental calamity he’s there to herald (think The Happening but with killer space insects instead of marauding trees and wind). But they don’t listen. They try to kill him. Stupid humans.
What’s The Deal: Okay, have you seen the original 1951 version? No? Then you aren’t allowed to see this one yet. Go back and see the original. It’s a classic of sci-fi cinema. Fifty-something years later it holds up. It even pioneered the use of the theremin on its soundtrack. That’s how awesome it is. This one? The opposite of all that. Dumber and dorkier than the dumbest dork you know. Having said that, I had a good time because my viewing companion and I were able to whisper mocking comments back and forth to one another and amuse ourselves. This is not a bad way to salvage a crappy moviegoing experience. Which leads me to…
The Ideal Conditions For Watching This: On DVD. (Because it's wrong to annoy people in the theater. And though the effects are good—a friend of mine even worked on them—they’re not so mind-blowing that a big screen TV won’t suffice for looking at them.) With friends who have quick wits and smart mouths. And remote in hand for fast-pausing when you want to rewind amazing dialogue like when Jennifer Connelly talks about how science genius John Cleese won the Nobel Prize for “biological altruism.” (Embarrassed Reviewer Update: Some science bloggers just mocked me for not knowing that biological altruism is a real thing. You can't get anything past those scientists. But it's a testament to how stupid this movie is that the people responsible for it could make reality sound fake, seeing as how they crowd out all the bio-altruisum with those space insects. Anyway, science people: 1. Me: 0.) It’s the kind of movie that should have bypassed theaters and gone straight to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Why Environmental Terror Movies Aren’t Scary: Because if they gave you the real lowdown on impending bio-doom they’d be documentaries like The 11th Hour or An Inconvenient Truth and everybody would leave the theater bummed out and panicked. This way you can laugh at it and think, “Oh, it’s all going to be okay now that Obama’s the President” and the movie can still work in product placement for McDonalds (yes, really) and big cars.
Quick Notes For The Cast: Keanu is successful as an emotionless alien because that’s how he always is on screen. Shivering, starving Jennifer Connelly is too good for this, so all there is to focus on is her prominent clavicle. Jon Hamm’s hair looks better in 1961. Kathy Bates seems like she’s trying not to crack up. John Cleese keeps a straighter face.