1. The movie stars Keanu Reeves as the alien Klaatu. An alien Keanu is an oxymoron; we already know he isn't human. When he says the line "This body will take some getting used to" in the movie, I imagine him rehearsing that line the minute he learned to talk.
2. It's a science fiction movie, which means some special effects. When Klaatu comes to earth on board an organic sphere, the CGI on the alien marble looks unrealistic and cheesy especially on the big screen. I've seen better effects in local fantaseryes on TV. Even Gort the robot, in his first appearance, looks uninspired. (OK, he looks the same as the 1951 version but still he looks like a T-1000 reject.)
3. There are two Oscar winners in this movie: Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates. Both are wasted trying to bring life to stock characters: the Good Scientist and the Uncompromising Bureaucrat. Connelly seems like she's walking in a daze. Bates, on the other hand, is given stilted, bad dialogue such as: ""They've compromised our satellites. It knows everything about us." I was waiting for someone to say, "Naw, really? Say it ain't so."
4. Everyone is a stock character -- the scientist, the bureaucrat, the angsty kid, the trigger-happy general, the evil scientist, the paranoid official. And everyone is given hammy, "stating the obvious" dialogue that's delivered without a hint of irony. Jaden Smith, who plays the angsty kid, gets the short end of the stick because he keeps repeating "We've got to kill the aliens!"
You know why "Independence Day" was such a guilty pleasure? Because everyone played it for laughs and had fun although it was a big budget extravaganza. In this movie, there's not a single personality that you can warm up to because everyone seems to be channeling Keanu.
5. So what about the story? In a nutshell, Klaatu the alien and his robot bodyguard, Gort, comes to earth to see if the humans are doing a good job taking care of the planet. He decides to kill all human beings because us humans aren't doing a good job. All of a sudden, it's An Inconvenient Truth meets Invasion, except that Al Gore is a much better actor.
6. At one point in the movie, Keanu tells Good Scientist Connelly to drive to a McDonald's where he talks to a Chinese guy who also happens to be an alien. The fate of the earth is decided over a Happy Meal. No wonder we lose.
7. There are no fun moments in this movie. It's just a slog from Point A to Point B all the way to the conclusion. While watching, I couldn't help but compare it to Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The plot is the same -- an alien comes to earth to destroy all of humanity but is convinced to stop the destruction because he has an epiphany over one person's love for another. Now sap all the humor, the "cool" Surfer CGI, the Fantastic Four superpowers, all the fun moments with Stan Lee and the bickering between the Thing and Torch, and you've got this movie. (By the way, FF2 was pretty bad too but at least it had a cool Surfer.)
8. The little things about this movie just bug me. Like why did the scientists arrive ahead of the military at Keanu/Klaatu's crash site? Why is the camera work so shaky during Klaatu's first interview? Why is a mother taking her kid out for a stroll in the middle of the night? And why are those two drivers who pick up Klaatu and Jaden such bad actors?
At one point, Jaden asks Keanu/Klaatu to raise his dad from the dead. All of a sudden, I'm psyched. Do we get an uncredited Hancock cameo? Aww, hell no.
9. It can't be all bad, right? Here are the few good points: John Cleese makes an appearance that actually gives the film a pulse after the first hour. He and Keanu/Klaatu talk over the fate of the earth with Cleese giving some of the best lines in the movie. "Every civilization has a crisis point. Only in the precipice do we evolve." He's like Captain Kirk reasoning with aliens on why Earth should be spared. Unfortunately, he's in the movie for about two minutes.
10. Every sci fi movie has it's grand finale. After giving us bad CGI for most of the movie, the producers go for broke and blow their budget on the last five minutes. So we get 100 minutes of uninspired nonsense and then end the movie with a bang. So to the people who are downloading this movie already, my advice is -- skip to the last five minutes to see all the good stuff. Maybe that should teach movie studios not to do pointless remakes.