The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a remake of the 1951 science fiction classic. As is often the wont of sci-fi, there is an underlying theme, or big message, and back in 1951 that message was concern about the nuclear arms race and the Cold War. Cut to 2008 and the remade movie’s thematic concern is global warming.

Keanu Reeves plays the ‘alien hitman’ Klaatu – well, he becomes Klaatu. He starts off in the film as a mountain climber in the high parts of India in the year 1928. His mountain idyll is interrupted by an egg-shaped block of energy trapped in what looks to be ice, and when you’re by yourself in the snow and you encounter such a thing, you of course take to it with a climbing tool. That’s when, for mountain-climbing Keanu, it all goes pear-shaped. Cut to present day. A bigger version of the the ice egg lands in Manhattan, and out steps GORT – same name as the robot character in the original film, but in the new film it’s an acronym, Genetically Organised Robotic Technology – and, in a placenta-like container, is Keanu/Klaatu.

So, given the alien-fish-out-of-water role, Keanu does his usual schtick – implacable almost expressionless – but as the alien it is called for in this role. (As an aside, is it just me, or does everyone do a word association thing with Keanu movies, Keanu = canoe = block of wood?) Jennifer Connolly and Jaden Smith play a mother and stepson who act as Klaatu’s teachers of the tricky ways of humanity, and… I’ll stop there, so as not to be a plot spoiler.

Look, this is a decent film, it’s not great, it’s not bad. Jennifer Connolly as ever is cool and classy, Keanu makes what I feel are his acting limitations work in this role, and Will Smith’s kid Jaden Smith puts in another confident performance. So the acting is good, the special effects are about right – they don’t overpower – and I wouldn’t criticise the heavy-handedness of the film’s theme, it’s really no more laboured than the lauded themes of the 1951 version. But really, this film doesn’t make you go wow; it doesn’t really make you think, it’s just something you (can) watch.

Product placement report

Spot the slightly clumsy inserts of LG computers and mobile phone, and the less clumsy but rather extended plugs for McDonalds and Honda.

Blu-ray extras

  • Build Your Own GORT – interactive feature for viewers to create their own unique GORT using elements from early designs
  • Klaatu’s Unseen Artifacts: The Day the Earth Stood Still picture-in-picture track
  • Picture-in-Picture Bonus View – allows a special insider’s look into the alien invasion
  • In-Movie Features – access commentaries, picture-in-picture track, and storyboards at any time during the film
  • Deleted Scenes – your chance to view three scenes that did not make the final cut of the film: Equipment is issued to the scientists; Helen and Granier discuss the shot; Extended version of Klaatu being wheeled down hallway
  • Re-Imagining “The Day” – a look at the making of this re-imagined version of the film
  • Unleashing Gort – take a peek at the process involved in creating Gort’s new look
  • Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life – scientists talk about possible real world scenarios for first contact with aliens
  • The Day the Earth Was “Green” – Fox’s first green production; details from this environmentally conscious set. Interesting given Fox have decalred they will run carbon nuetral by 2010, and this was the first of their movies to adhere to the guidelines.
  • Audio Commentary with Screenwriter David Scarpa

DVD extras

Special features on the DVD include (descriptions above):

  • Deleted scenes
  • Re-Imagining “The Day”
  • Unleashing GORT
  • Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life
  • The Day the Earth Was “Green”
  • Audio Commentary with Screenwriter David Scarpa


  • Format: Blu-ray version reviewed, also available on DVD
  • Sound formats: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs in box: 1
  • BD live features?: No
  • Video format: 1080p
  • Running time: 104 minutes
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