Day the Earth Stopped, The (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring C. Thomas Howell, Sinead McCafferty, Bug Hall, Jeff Ellefson, Judd Nelson
Directed by C. Thomas Howell
The Day the Earth Stopped is the mockbuster that prompted Fox to send their lawyers after The Asylum. Nothing came of it though. In retrospect, The Asylum probably should have sued Fox instead for putting out a film so bad it could potentially hurt interest in their mockbuster. After sitting through the anger-inducing affront to human intelligence that was the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (review) this past weekend, I found myself thinking that this might be one of the rare instances where an Asylum mockbuster proves to be truly superior to its big screen counterpart. After watching Stopped, well, let's just call it a tie.
666 colossal robots from outer space have begun landing all over the Earth. 666 is a good round number, no? Government authorities refer to them as "megaliths", a word typically used to describe gigantic stone monuments of prehistoric times. This led me to suspect that the original script idea was not to make these megaliths look like Robotjox but since the movie its mockbustering boasts a giant robot... Why do I suspect this? Leave it to The Asylum to make a movie featuring gargantuan robots that just stand there and do nothing. If attacked they'll fire laser beams at their attackers, but other than that .... nada. Might as well just been giant stone monoliths instead.
The impoverished nature of the budget shows quite often though the special effects work on the megaliths is fairly decent. Again, that's probably because they just stand there almost completely motionless the entire film. Even when they fly off into space all we see are static shots of the robots lifting straight up without any kind of rocketry or visual trickery. Ever see the "Poochie" episode of "The Simpsons" when they animators killed Poochie by just having a single animation cell rise up out of the frame? Practically the same effect here.
At the same time, in some woods on the outskirts of Los Angeles, a naked alien woman struts about looking more like she just stepped out of the pages of Penthouse, not a spaceship. Now in this aspect I have to give the film credit for being vastly superior to the film it's ripping off - both versions. Michael Rennie and Keanu Reeves vs. a perfectly sculptured naked redhead; guess which wins in my book?
Army guy C. Thomas Howell (who also directed, badly) brings her to a nearby army base where they put clothes on her but make sure she's still wearing a very tight white top. She informs him the human race is to be wiped out because of our destructive ways. The megaliths are emitting a sonic wave that will cause the earth's core to stop spinning; hence the movie's title.
If you're wondering how stopping the earth's core from spinning could kill us, might I advise you go add The Core to your Netflix queue. Better yet, don't. No need to add this one, either.
We are to be exterminated by the end of the day unless we, and by we I mean C. Thomas Howell (the fate of the world resting in the hands of Soul Man does not comfort me), can convince her of humanity's humanity. Enter United States government agents looking to torture and interrogate her, scoffing mightily at the very notion of proving humanity's essential goodness. What? No mustaches to twirl?
There's also a second alien, a male, who upon getting captured sits in his jail cell explaining to other government scientists what's going on and why for the rest of the movie. Pointless.
Howell's fellow "Brat Pack" friend Judd Nelson also appears ever so briefly in a role so insignificant that it wouldn't even be appropriate to call it a cameo. More like a favor.
Howell springs the stacked alien babe, and the two roam around the almost completely evacuated city playing gender reversal Starman while being hunted by the authorities. He'll first try to prove our worth by taking her to church and introducing her to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This does not convince her. Pat Robertson will be most displeased when he hears about this film.
What does eventually convince her of our humanity is something so mundane it makes what convinces Keanu to save us in the remake seem truly profound. I won't spoil it but here's a hint: what woman can resist a baby.
But you, you can resist this latest Asylum snoozefest. The Day the Earth Stopped never even gets started. The only thing that stopped was the pacing. Any attempt at thoughtful science fiction is undermined by the simpleminded mimicry of the script. Any attempt at being exciting is undermined by the almost complete lack of action. Any attempt at being a thriller is undermined by the overall tedium of the events. I can already hear most viewers of the film long before the elongated closing credits roll saying to themselves, "Stop the world, I want to get off."
1 1/2 out of 5
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