The Day the Earth Stood Still
2008
In this updated version of the 1951 classic sci-fi thriller, Keanu Reeves stars as an alien named Klaatu who's sent to Earth to warn the leaders of the world about the consequences of their dangerous ways. Joined by a heavily armed robot companion, Klaatu informs the people of Earth that the constant aggression carried out against one another has raised the ire of an alien species, which is now threatening to exterminate all of mankind.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

(Every remake is new to someone out there. Spoilers ahead.)

Even though that wasn't its point, the original Day the Earth Stood Still inspired one of the core plot elements of so many other alien-visitor stories: Mankind will assume the alien is hostile and attack it rather than try to learn from it. Kathy Bates, an intelligent and compassionate woman (even her villainess in Misery was a caretaker), is the wrong person to lead the gung-ho, the-aliens-are-going-to-kill-us-all charge here, and it contributes to the film's feeling of going through the motions for no particular reason.

That's what baffles me about this picture: The filmmakers have been trying to make this movie since 1993, back when its two stars had just done Point Break and The Rocketeer, and what does a decade and a half of planning get them? Some ambiguous mishmash about why the human race has to be exterminated, some more ambiguous mishmash about why the alien changes his mind, and slightly more detail about the tanks and planes mounting the resistance. This is the kind of brainless junk studios crank out hastily to make a buck when they realize they're sitting on the rights to a classic with a famous title they can slap on a poster, not the work of auteurs who have thought long and hard about what the original film meant and how to update its urgent message for a modern world.

This film may be dull, especially since it's about the most important day in the history of mankind and all, but it has a few saving graces. Keanu Reeves is perfectly cast as a robot-like alien visitor (did he audition for Gort?), and he finds some interesting physical movements for his character, like the way he scales over a cemetery wall as fluidly as taking a step. Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith both deliver pretty well in the big emotional climax they were hired for. The film has a fraction of the sense of awe and wonder it should have about an event of this magnitude, but it still has enough to keep you thinking throughout. With the same material, this could have been a much better movie, but it has just enough to keep you entertained until the end.

− December 21, 2008 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

Jackie Mason: Glad I read your review. I'm a big fan of 50's and 60s scifi movies and the original has always been one of my favorites. But I just didn't see this remake holding a candle to the remake of War of the Worlds.

I think one of the biggest cinema blunders of this year was holding off the next Harry Potter installment to make way for what seems to have been the disappointing Twilight debut. They should have just brought the Potter. − December 26, 2008 • more by Jackie

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