David Scarpa

David Scarpa

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The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) Review


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Remakes are the bane of many a film fan's existence. Some are strident in their wholesale hatred, while others take a "wait and see" stance before eventually dismissing the attempted upgrade. Of course, by doing so, they have ignored quite a few quality films (Cronenberg's The Fly, Jackson's King Kong, Scorsese's The Departed). Yet in general, when a modern filmmaker takes on a considered classic, they run the risk of embarrassing themselves and the material being remade. A true masterwork from the '50s, Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still is considered "verboten" by purists. An update stands as a disaster waiting to happen, right? Actually, no.

When a huge spherical object lands in New York's Central Park, a first response team led by members of the military and scientific community set out to explore its purpose. Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) makes contact with a strange being exiting the orb, but said creature is accidentally shot by a soldier, mandating immediate medical care. Eventually, the humanoid-looking alien named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) explains his purpose. Mankind's lack of environmental concern and overall violent nature has led other civilized planets to mandate the destruction of the entire population. While the Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates) plans an armed solution, Helen helps Klaatu escape, and along with her stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith), she tries to convince the extraterrestrial emissary that humanity is worth saving.

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The Last Castle Review


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After critic-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie's pitiful attempt at a White House drama (and I use that word loosely) with last year's The Contender, Lurie provides a bit of redemption with The Last Castle, a semi-decent drama set in a tough-as-nails military prison.

Robert Redford, in his first acting role since 1998's The Horse Whisperer, plays venerable three-star General and war hero Eugene Irwin, a soldier who quickly pleads guilty in his court martial, resulting in a ten year sentence to an unnamed military prison. When hearing of Irwin's impending arrival, head warden Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini) is astounded, saying they should be naming a base after the guy, not locking him up for a decade.

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