The Day The Earth Stood Still Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short version: If all you ask from a movie is cool CGI effects, The Day the Earth Stood Still is for you. Look for any more than that and you’ll be sorely disappointed.

day the earth stood still reviews The Day The Earth Stood Still Review
Screen Rant reviews The Day the Earth Stood Still

You know, I can understand the desire to remake The Day the Earth Stood Still… I really can. The original film had a great concept, it’s stood the test of time, and the temptation to revisit it with today’s visual effects must have been overwhelming.

But one of the first rules of remakes is: You don’t remake classic films.

You don’t remake Gone With the Wind, you don’t remake Casablanca and you don’t even TRY to remake Citizen Kane. It’s a losing proposition – remakes that work are few and far between, and often they’re based on obscure or poorly made originals.

Now that I’ve got you thinking that my entire review will be based on comparing this new version to the original, let me tell you: This version doesn’t even work as a stand alone film. This could have been titled Alien Retribution and it still wouldn’t have been any good.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it basically goes like this: An alien spacecraft suddenly appears, an alien comes out to greet us (followed by very large protective robot), is mistakenly shot, questioned by the U.S. government, escapes, is befriended by a woman and her son, and it is revealed that (and here is where the plot diverts from the original) he is here to destroy mankind in order to save the Earth.

The film starts interestingly enough – with Keanu Reeves as a mountain explorer in 1928, apparently up in the Himalayas. He’s alone and there’s a pretty good snowstorm blowing, and he comes across an ice covered globe about 10 feet in diameter. He chips away at the ice, and something happens to him which forms the basis for how he (or someone who looks like him) returns to earth present day.

Present day, the always beautiful Jennifer Connelly plays college professor Helen Benson. She has a son, played by Jaden Smith, but I’ll get to him later. Federal agents soon appear and sweep her away with virtually no explanation to join a bunch of other similarly clueless scientists and engineers. Soon they are informed of the object heading towards Earth, apparently set to collide with a very prominent city and cause millions of deaths.

Of course it doesn’t crash but lands. It is a gigantic sphere that looks like it contains spinning liquids/gas. From it emerges a humanoid alien creature, who approaches Benson very slowly and carefully, extending its hand slowly in what is obviously a handshake. This is when he is shot by a nervous soldier (who, I assume, had never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and frankly, I found the shot completely contrived. At least in the original the alien (Klaatu) was holding a device which suddenly sprang open in the appearance of a weapon. Here it seemed as if the writer said “oh, here’s where the alien gets shot, let’s just get it done.”

A gigantic robot (Gort) emerges from the ship and commences to destroy all weapons within line of sight – he only stops when Klaatu orders him to (it was hard to make out but I believe this is where they inserted the famous line “Klaatu Barada Nikto”).

Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) is taken to a secure medical facility in order to try to help him, and there is actually some cool conceptual stuff going on here with the alien organism side of things. Soon he’s healed and is shakily adapting to his human body. Kathy Bates plays Secretary of Defense and is not wearing kid gloves in her approach to getting information out of the apparently human alien.

It becomes apparent that this Klaatu has powers over electricty and more, and he soon escapes with the help of Benson. She continues to believe he is here for the good of humanity and is determined to help him stay away from authorities long enough to get him in front of the United Nations to address the world. As it turns out he isn’t here to save humanity, he’s here to save the planet Earth from humanity.

The plan is to wipe human beings from the planet because “only a handful of planets in the universe can support complex life.” I literally laughed out loud when I heard that line – so in order to save a rare planet that can support complex life, his “federation” of aliens is going to wipe out the most complex life form on the planet?? What puts an exclamation point on the joke is when we’re shown tons of spheres all over the world collecting specimens of animal and insect life presumably to whisk them off the planet (just in case?). So snakes and squids are worth saving, but humans aren’t.

The best thing in this movie was watching Jennifer Connelly on screen – she was great in her role. John Cleese has a small and surprisingly serious cameo in the film which worked as well. Reeves was… well… Reeves. There wasn’t much he could do with the role as given, playing it very cold and unemotionally. Jaden Smith’s character however, annoyed the living heck out of me. He looks like he’s about nine years old and he played this incredibly snarky, back-talking character to his (as it turns out) step-mother, Helen. With every exchange between him and her I was torn between wanting to slap some parenting sense into her or some discipline into him. If they had cast a 14-16 year old I would have bought it, but a kid that young with that much lip? Not in my house.

Compound that with the fact that later on in the film we’re supposed to feel compassion for him when he finally “turns around.” He either wasn’t given the dialog to do it or just doesn’t have the acting chops to pull it off. That’s a major problem with the film – Outside of Benson, I didn’t really care about anyone or what might happen to them. I felt disconnected from the film and it just never really engaged me. For all the visual effects in the film, the overall feel of the film is fairly flat and boring.

Then there’s the whole “kill the humans to save the Earth” message – frankly I found that ludicrous. Here’s a supposedly highly evolved race that apparently has no problems with just murdering all of humanity. For what? Do they plan on populating Earth themselves? Replace us with “good” people who know how to take care of the planet?

I mean seriously, they should just be patient – if we’re that close to self-destruction just come back in a few thousand years. Does anyone really believe that humanity can actually pollute the planet to death? If anything the worry should be that we’ll make it uninhabitable for ourselves – give the Earth 10,000 years without us and it’ll be back to a lush paradise on its own.

There are other things as well, if Klaatu’s true alien appearance would be “frightening” (as he stated in the film), one would assume it is completly alien-looking – so why is Gort humanoid in appearance? Then there’s a “spy” who has been on Earth for 70 years, who Klaatu confers with before his final decision to destroy us. They guy tells him about how he’s come to love humanity, but we won’t change our ways. In view of how the film ends, this ends up making absolutely zero sense. There are also a couple of rather jarringly obvious product placements, and the ending is completely ambiguous.

In the original Klaatu left us with a warning… basically: “Get your act together and stop being so violent. We’ll be watching.” Here, Klaatu finally stops the destruction, but he just… leaves. How far will his message of why he came get? Will anyone hear it? Did he decide humanity is so noble that they don’t care what we do to the planet any more? Why didn’t he listen to the old guy he talked to earlier? Why didn’t the guy make a better case for humanity?

I swear I expected Al Gore to have a cameo in this film at some point. When Benson rescues Klaatu, my first thought when they got to her car was “good thing she doesn’t drive an SUV!” Despite this, the film never has the guts to go all the way and use the term “global warming” or say “you’re destroying the environment with your pollution.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still is all about the visual effects. They are cool, but I need more than that from a film in order to call it “good.” As a matter of fact, for all its spectacle, the film is pretty flat and boring.

So if you’re into seeing lots of cool CGI on the big screen – and plot and characters don’t mean that much to you, by all means, go check this out. On the other hand if those things DO matter to you, go rent the original and enjoy that instead.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5
(Poor, A Few Good Parts)

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  1. I will pass and wait for a rental..I’m not worries about Mother Earth…If and when we get close to killing this biosphere Mother Nature will shrug her shoulders and wipe out 90% of the population..short of the Earth floating off into space I don’t think humankind will ever be completely wiped out..too many of us and we are like ants…

  2. oh by-the-way Vic..Thanks for the review!! :)


  3. 1.5, Haha glad to be wrong on that prediction, my first thought was a 2,,,

    It sounds like an Rolland Emerich film,,,
    I knew the ending would suck,,,
    Hey I’m a complex lifeform ! ;-)

  4. Well here is an interesting article on the Wolverine movie trailer that is supposed to be attached to TDEST…Vic have you seen the trailer..Has anybody seen it?

  5. Wow, the previews made it look like a fun popcorn flick, but a 1.5? Not even sure it’s worth a rental…..

  6. DOn’t know this person reviewing it but they didn’t go into great depth but just seemed to enjoy raining on FOX’s parade..

  7. Hey! I must be really slow or something, but I just realised I’ve seen “Klaatu Barada Nikto” before.

    Klaatu and Nikto are the names of alien races in Return of The Jedi. They were Barada was the name of an invidual alien on Jabba’s Sail Barge.

    Sigh. I’m such a damn nerd.

  8. Sorry, I meant to type ‘And Barada was…’ not ‘They were Barada..’

  9. I willl be skipping this.
    Thanks Vic.

  10. Yup!
    We started this one way back when it was first announced that a remake was being shot. Pretty much all the fears and suspicions have been realized and satisfied, to what end?
    FOX continues to treat stupidity as if it were gospel.
    Let’s see now…
    In the original the central character was played by Ranie, a relative new comer to the big screen. This added a sense of mystery to the character.
    We got TED.
    In the original, the film was a character driven piece with a strong moral message.
    What in the **** is the message in this film? “Who cares about the economy OR the planet for that matter? What bitchen big silver balls! WEEEEEEEEEEEE-HOOOO!”
    If such a great classic can be pillaged in such a manner, I weep for the future.

  11. Thanks for the Review Vick.
    i think ill skip this one altogether.
    i mean come on i hate all this whole Global Warming Propaganda!!!
    and the pethetic liberal Media…
    and besides correct me if i am wrong but arent Human Beings, the only living thing on this planet (besides for rats) who can adjust to any climate or tarrain…
    If we gotthis far, (if you want to say we evolved…) then of course we will adjust our selves to a hoter and dirty earth…

  12. This may be a Netflix rental. The special effects look mediocre at best.

  13. this movie is donkey balls

    go see Doubt with Philip Seymour Hoffman

  14. @greenknight

    I saw the Wolverine trailer and I’m torn about what I think of it… the individual scenes looked good, but as a whole the trailer felt very disjointed to me.

    Sure, trailers have a lot of different stuff in them but this one was kind of confusing the way it was put together. Doesn’t really give much of an idea as to what the film will be about (besides the origin of Wolverine).


  15. Ya i’ll be passing on this. I won’t be able to get over that exterminate man thing, like vic. I like to think once in a while while watchng a movie, and this movie won’t let you, and stay sane.

  16. Thanks Vic…Any idea when Screen Rant will have a copy of the trailer for our viewing pleasure :)

  17. @greenknight

    You can rest assured I’ll post it up as soon as it’s officially available online. I would guess that would be within the next few days.


  18. Geez I hope FOX doesn’t blow this one or the X-Franchise(s) may be toast..They are notoriously cheap those FOX executives..

  19. I think your too late Greenknight333,
    Arnt they working on Teen X-men,,,

    Its over,,, :-(

  20. I can’t wait until we’re… “sophisticated” enough to wipe out other species who aren’t good enough for their planet.

  21. @ Aaron

    Aren’t we doing that anyway..every species lives in harmony with its environment except us..Nature wastes nothing yet we are very wasteful as a species…Not getting on my soapbox and I don’t want to hijack this thread for a sociopolitical rant .. I think we will do better but as history has shown us it will take some time..


  22. I was more than doubtful about this movie from the moment it was announced. It was almost assured that it would have a HUGE environmental slant. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to see it anyway, but Vic, you have convinced me that it isn’t even worth another thought.


  23. Back from TDTEST. Why was this necessary? I could go on but what’s the point? The damage is done and I can only hope that the absolute knuckleheads in Hollywood who approaches a studio about doing a remake just bend over and stick that script right up their whoo-hoos.

    The ending sucked! I sat there in awe, left in utter disgust and smacked the theater owner as I headed out.

    Well…..not the last part of course.

    As for the WOLVERINE trailer? LOVED IT!!!!

  24. “Then there’s the whole ‘kill the humans to save the Earth’ message – frankly I found that ludicrous.”

    Maybe Klaatu’s people never learned about “Save the cheerleader, save the world”?

  25. They recently proved on Mythbusters that a turd can actually be polished, but I’m afraid the luster was off this one before it left the editing bay…

  26. Really not suprised, I dont know if this is true or not but someone told me that one advertising for this film was saying :this is the only place you can see the new x-men trailer.” If they have to say that obiviosly there is something seriously wrong with the film!

    Enough with the global warming crap!

  27. hey, vic the ORIGINS Trailer was ok.

    they need 2 fix gambit’s eyes.

    any 1 Agree ?

  28. Saw it tonight.

    Honestly, it didn’t totally suck and it didn’t blow my skirt up either. It did…nothing.

    Basically it just never should have been made in the first place.

    And Keanu…He looks terrible. Jennifer looked totally edible as always.

    Glad I had an unrestricted pass. Rent this one guys.

  29. It did something for me….it made me fall asleep. Vic warned us, so why did we still go and see it? Oh well. I thought Gort was fine, until the….change. Also, Klaatu did say the famous line but you could barely understand it. What was soo wrong with the original premise??!! Why change it??!! Man, these Fox execs get on my nerves!!! :-(