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The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)



Genre: , ,
Actor: ,
MPAA Rating:
Production Co:
Runtime: 104 min
Synopsis: A remake of the 1951 classic sci-fi film about an alien visitor and his giant robot counterpart who visit Earth.
Release Date: December 12, 2008
Written By: David Scarpa





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Posted December 12, 2008 by

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earthstoodstillThe Day The Earth Stood Still is one of the best new Sci-Fi movies I have seen in the last few years. The combination of solid special effects and a clear, to-the-point story led to a great experience that I anticipate owning on release. It is typical of me to come back to my home after a movie has gotten me excited, rushing to the PC and looking at the reviews by the Oscar tainted blowhards who hate everything. Needless to say they did not disappoint me. If you have followed my reviews and respect my view on films, I urge you to go out and watch this movie.

When you mix a bit of The Abyss, War of The Worlds and Independence Day into a blender then combine that with Keanu Reeves, you get a pretty solid movie. Knowing this was a remake of an older 1951 movie, I purposely avoided watching the original to judge the movie on it’s own merit. On it’s own it shone brighter than many movies of it’s genre and I am confident in recommending it to you. If you have a chance to see this in an IMAX theater, I will tell you that watching a 50 ft tall humanoid robot lay waste to it’s attackers in sharp IMAX detail is second to none. Combine that with the sound of missiles roaring past your head in full surround sound, and my friends you have yourself a great theater experience right there (the jackass kicking your seat not included). Do IMAX if you can, and do it larger than life.

Synopsis (Spoiler Alert):

[spoiler]Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is summoned to a secret collective of scientists to investigate a UFO speeding towards earth at a high velocity. So fast is it’s movement, the government is given under 2 minutes to react before Manhattan is flattened from it’s impact. Upon entering earth’s atmosphere however, the craft lands and an extra terrestrial emerges to meet the humans with a friendly handshake. A shot is fired, dropping the Alien in an instant… it seems that the stranger who had come in peace was welcomed by the stereotypical trigger happy US military. Taking the body into custody, the government orders tests and interrogation for the alien, who soon takes on the form of a human named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves).Klaatu’s treatment is one of a threat and Helen soon becomes his only friend within the testing facility and eventually helps him escape when asked to sedate him for interrogation. Once on the outside, Helen, Klaatu and Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith) embark on a quest to show Klaatu the good in the human race as opposed to the evil he had experienced since landing. Klaatu explains that his mission is to save the earth from the race of humans, he has a hard time accepting that people can change as he witnesses the US government (yes solely the U.S.) launching Nuclear weapons and other attacks upon his ship without wont for negotiation. Their quest takes them from the non-wavering military directed Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) to Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is introduced as a “real” leader of the earth unlike the war mongering government.The meetings are abbreviated by a continuous chase by the government to recover Klaatu and the impending doom of the alien race as they begin to wipe out the destructive humans. Little Jacob who had lost his father to the military is a wreck of emotional angst, disrespectful, annoying and continuously trying to show independence by shutting out his stepmother. Throughout the journey the mother and son grow closer and in a dramatic display at the gravesite of Jacob’s father, Klaatu experiences the act of change firsthand as the boy accepts his mother for the first time. This display of love and change, makes him rethink the genocide and the earth is barely spared through the actions of a single believer.[/spoiler]


Not the most original story to a Sci-Fi fanatic but it is done convincingly and without confusion to say the least. Sans the whiny child who eventually becomes tolerant near the end, I feel jaded being that this gem was viewed on the larger than life IMAX Experience. Quiet audience, three seats to myself (of course I stretched out) and a fellow Sci-Fi fan with me, I could never ask for a better experience. Keanu Reeves was his typical stoic self, but for the role of an alien, this part was perfect for him. Jaden Smith was a bit much, almost touching on too damn annoying, but did an excellent job at conveying the rebellious nature of Jacob Benson. Jennifer Conelly gets the gold on this one, having to do the most acting out of everyone as she rushed Klaatu all over the place and Kathy Bates was on point as she barked out orders and took the reins as the Secretary to the President. All in all aside from a few cheesy lines, solid performance from all involved.

There is an underlying theme to the movie, since everything is all about being “green” nowadays, it does scream hippie in terms of the message. We are killing mother earth, the US Government is all about war mongering and shooting anyone that is different. Our leaders go into hiding while launching nukes from a phone, etc., etc. If you cannot get past these typical sentiments, then you probably shouldn’t see the movie. Don’t be that asshole in the audience going on loudly about how it sucks because you’re such a patriot and the movie is shite compared to the original and become blind to the fact that you are being a total tool that the audience hates and wants to beat up (well maybe just me, I’ll beat you up)… don’t be that guy. Did I mention that the score, cinematography and sound gave me nerd pimples? Well they did.

For my Sci-Fi friends out there, this is a must-have for your collection. It is well paced, well acted and well edited. If you are a fan of the Director’s Cut of The Abyss, and if you felt War of The Worlds was decent but missing an ingredient, you will agree with me on The Day The Earth Stood Still. Be sure to see it.

Greg Dragon

Cinephile and opinion writer, Greg Dragon has been a fan of movies since the 80's when Kung Fu theater was all the rage and Roger Moore was James Bond. Greg is the founder and lead critic of Spicy Movie Dogs. You can follow him on Twitter @Rafacus or on his Google+ account.