You will forgive me if I speak bluntly, but it’s a whole lotta ho-hum thus far on 20th Century Fox’s remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Its director, Scott Derrickson, doesn’t inspire much confidence (which is a nice way of saying The Exorcism of Emily Rose was to cinema what Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music was to metal, machines and music), while its star, Keanu Reeves, will certainly bring a more… relaxed vibe to the role originated by Michael Rennie. As for the screenwriters, Ryne Douglas Pearson’s only credit is as the novelist of Mercury Rising (I can mount a Harold Becker defense on that one, but I’m not nearly limber enough at the moment), while the latest scribe to attack the material, David Scarpa, has only Rod Lurie’s The Last Castle to his credit. Call it inconclusive.
On a prestige level, the casting of Jennifer Connelly in the role of Helen Benson is a winner; she’s got an Oscar, and she’s been working steadily in A-list dramas ever since. Unfortunately, she’s been the least interesting element in most of those movies (her best moment post-A Beautiful Mind was filling up a gas can with a lit cigarette dangling from her lip in the unintentionally uproarious House of Sand and Fog). I think it’s great that Connelly has successfully segued from sex object to serious actress; I just wish she hadn’t confused "legitimate" with "frigid".
Unless Pearson or Scarpa have hotted up the character of Benson, there’s every reason to expect that Connelly will do Patricia Neal proud (just not better). Yay for that. It’ll be interesting to see how Derrickson and his writers revamp Robert Wise’s 1951 classic to make it relevant post-Cold War. My only suggestion: go scoreless. Anything you commission will pale badly in comparison to Bernard Herrmann’s unnerving, theremin-heavy cues.