Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Sci-Fi,Thrillers The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)


           The first time The Day the Earth Stood Still was presented to movie goers it fit right in with the science fiction genre.  I haven’t seen the original, which is considered a classic that was directed by Robert Wise, but its predecessor won’t be classified under the same file of great movie lore.  Many films are trying to resurrect that feel of impending Armageddon by way of an unknown interstellar force that was hugely popular in the sci-fi driven 50s and 60s.  War of the Worlds did a wonderful job of having everyone completely paranoid about thoughts of a possible alien invasion.  Unlike its remake, the recent Day the Earth Stood Still doesn’t offer that same aura. 

Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien who arrives on Earth with one mission: to preserve the planet Earth at any costs including the destruction of the human race.  He doesn’t come alone; his entourage consists of a twenty-foot tall CGI generated robot which the U.S. government dubs as GORT (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology).  The government also enlists the aid, without asking of course, of the world’s top scientists and engineers.  Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), an astrobiologist, is one of them and also a single mom to her very rebellious son, Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith).  There are Independence Day & The Fugitive moments mixed in throughout the middle of the film with Helen desperately trying to convince Klaatu to give humanity another chance.   

The original screenplay written by Edmond H. North holds a lot of weight to it.  Especially considering the timeline that the original film was released in.  An alien invasion, more specifically a Martian alien invasion, was the source of entertainment and good entertainment at that back then.  It ranked right up there with any bad blood between world super powers that proved critical in the beginnings of any war between countries.  The concept of having an alien invasion that was accompanied by something other than the capture and enslaving of the human race was a different and much unexpected twist to a classic science fiction premise.  Like Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) states in the film, “it’s Noah and the Ark all over again”.  This time God chose his prophet to come from a different planet.  Klaatu’s robot company, GORT, is indestructible and has the ability to shut down all human technology.  Its greatest and neatest trick would be the extermination of us, human beings.   

I for one, although a big fan of The Matrix trilogy, do not think that one Keanu Reeves is a good actor.  He always seems confused and will apparently never shrug off that surfer boy persona.  Needless to say, that surfer finds its way to another planet and returns as Klaatu.  If it wasn’t for his alien powers, I wouldn’t even be afraid of him.  I would be quite terrified of his robot muscle however.  Jennifer Connelly does a good job as a famed astrobiologist (how do we really know how astrobiologists act in real life, but , it’s a movie so we go with it) but is unbelievable as a single stepmom trying ever so desperately to connect with her son who obviously has no intention of ever obeying her.  For a seemingly epic film, it kind of flies through the story.  In my opinion, until the very end, Klaatu is never really presented with any hard evidence that the human race is worth saving.  Yeah, I would love for us to not become instantly extinct as well but then again if no one is left alive, how would we ever know what happened?  There would be no mourning and quite frankly, we probably wouldn’t be missed. 

            The special effects are the best aspect of the film.  Although, it seems to rely on visuals pretty heavy at times, without them, this film would be even worse that it already is.  Crisp CGI rendering of the bodyguard robot and major property being destroyed is all there is to look for.  With the film obviously trying to put an emphasis towards the message it is trying to convey, it lacks in the thrilling area of being a sci-fi thriller. 

            Other than the special effects, the overall message contained in this film would be the best part.  Not only should we take care of our planet that sustains our way of life but we should do it unless we want to be destroyed by a twenty foot robot which cannot be stopped.  I give The Day the Earth Stood Still “2 reasons why we shouldn’t take the Earth or original classic sci-fi movies for granted out of 5”. 

-Have you done your homework? 

-School’s canceled on account of the aliens.

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