By Adrienne Papp
Based on the performance of his new movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, Keanu Reeves is still The One when it comes to delivering big budget special effect extravaganzas. Audiences around the world filled theaters and sat still for Reeves’ in the remake of the sci-fi classic, making it the top movie of the weekend with a $31 million debut, according to box office estimates. The new 20th Century Fox release also added $39 million in 90 overseas markets for a worldwide total of $70 million.
The movie is a big budget remake of the 1951 tale of an alien named Klaatu and his giant robot enforcer who come to Earth with a warning about the consequences of humanity’s destructive nature. In the new version, Reeves delivers a slightly different message. Starring opposite Jennifer Connelly, who plays Helen Benson, a world renowned scientific expert, Reeves brings serious warning of an impending global crisis – things must change for the Earth to be saved, and it may already be too late. The ‘big issue’ that the film deals with has been changed from the nuclear arms race of the original to the current crisis of global warming. We see not only a spectacular film, but also one that carries a message that everyone can relate to, and should be concerned about. But, it also addresses a question about human nature in its purest form: are we biologically programmed to only act when we are up against the wall and even threatened with extinction, or, is it just a bad habit, arrogance and laziness, which less than noble characteristics we can change if so willed? Which is it? Are we really powerless, or just, well, ‘stupid?’
‘The Day the Earth Stood Still is a visually stunning movie with timely issues,’ said Fox distribution executive Chris Aronson. ‘Basically, how we treat each other and how we treat this planet that we call home.’
And it’s altogether appropriate that Reeves is the one to convey the message. A proven big screen presence in the megahit Matrix series, Speed and other starring roles, Reeves has not only the ability to deliver the Big Message to Earth, but also has some pretty strong beliefs about extraterrestrial life as well. According to recent interviews, Reeves role in the movie found him wondering about life in other parts of the Universe. He came to the conclusion that there has to be life on other planets and thinks it ‘crazy’ to think that the Earth contains the only life in the Universe.
Looking at this issue from a closer perspective, like what quantum physics has to offer, it seems to me there maybe chances for mankind that we do not have the ability to understand today. It is however time that we found out.
‘I’ve met people who have seen UFOs, but I don’t know anyone who has been abducted,’ says Reeves. ‘How could there not be life on other planets? The universe is so vast. I guess a lot of people won’t believe in extraterrestrial life until they see evidence, until an alien lands in Central Park like my character does in the film, but the idea that life doesn’t exist anywhere but here is crazy.’
‘In God We Trust’ says the treasury on every American dollar bill. I have not met anyone who saw God or collected admissible evidence of God’s existence. Yet, in our very material world we declare the truth of the ‘unseen’ even printed on money. How can we then question the countless scientific evidence of forces beyond our understanding only because we cannot touch, taste and smell them with ordinary measures? Worse yet, we do not care! The universe is ‘invisible’ and if we do not feel its laws we deserve everything we get. Humans somehow discount their truest emotions: their innermost feelings. This denial may be the root of all evil.
Reeves, as Klaatu, issues the ultimatum that sets up the action when he says ‘If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth lives.’ It’s a message that’s also echoed in Disney’s big animated hit Wall-E, where consumption and waste have caused humans to leave the planet for life on a space station.
How much more chaos and catastrophes do we need in order to see what there is, and not the more comfortable version: what we want to think there is?
An actor who continues to prove himself as box office gold, while at the same time keeping a low profile, Reeves avoids the celebrity spotlight but has a devoted fan base that will now only increase in size with The Day the Earth Stood Still. Probably Hollywood’s most soulful and intelligent artist, he chooses roles that bestow important messages. He is not a frivolous or career driven guy, but one who takes a keen interest in his fellow humans. He sincerely cares about people, the human suffering and our frightening planetary and social conditions. To him it is important to be kind to mankind. Keanu’s love of his craft is obvious, but his roles also seem to be his communication to the world, an expression of who he really is. His soul and heart is in every character he plays. Miles and miles of heart is what Reeves adds to the screen. An innocence and genuine interest in the human condition is what Keanu transmits to those who share in his intelligence. His spectacular sense of humor, simple elegance, an old fashioned gentleman’s mannerism (hard to find anymore), coupled with a stable and loving upbringing by his extraordinary and bright Mother made him an irreplaceable citizen of the world.
Balancing his very serious approach to life with his fun loving, sweet and friendly side, he lacks the dignitary illusion of a Hollywood star. He enjoys hockey, surfing, playing bass, sipping wine with friends and uses a vocabulary most would need to carry the Webster Dictionary to decode. His nightmare that his headstone would contain the epitaph ‘He Played Ted,’ a reference to his character in the silly time travel comedy smash Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, is now the safest bet on the very wrong horse in a vey good race. That old broken record some journalists put into nearly every article written on him for the past few decades was simply their own ignorance and had very little to do with what this extraordinary man has to offer. Keanu, whose sharp and witty mind outdoes his unbeatably handsome looks, is still The One, whether it be Neo in The Matrix, or Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. And, my feeling is, he is here to stay.
Image courtesy of Adrienne Papp