The Day the Earth Stood Still Movie Review

BOTTOM LINE: Decent, but unremarkable remake of the 1950′s sci-fi classic which pitches a quite wooden and uninterested Keanu Reeves as the alien Klaatu coming to save the Earth from its inhabitants.

THE GOOD: By and large this film makes the smart move of keeping the story from the original Robert Wise film intact, with the one change being a more environmental focus as opposed to the nuclear holocaust theme of the original (as befitting the times within which we live). As a result, the story itself is very strong. Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien who takes human form and has the mission of saving the Earth. The humans initially take this to mean he has come to save humanity, but as Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly) and her adopted son discover, he literally means saving the Earth from humans whom the aliens have judged to be killing the planet through our toxic ways. However, as Klaatu spends more time among humans, he discovers that we deserve a chance to rise above their own shortcomings and stops the impending destruction of humanity. As with the original film, there is a lot of social discussion about what humans are doing to the Earth and whether or not they deserve to keep the planet. There are also many themes around the good versus bad nature of humanity, which is best objectified by the character of Klaatu as he spends more and more time with the humans. A great example is a scene where Klaatu is listening to classical music and is entranced by it, remarking that it is beautiful. The film also manages to have its fair share of spectacular sequences before Klaatu puts a stop to the destruction. The film has a strong basis in story and theme and does a very good job of combining them with some grand images without becoming a CG overload of audio-visual stimuli.

THE BAD: The film is ultimately not that special. It hits all the right marks, has a good story and some great environmental themes, however it does not make any attempt to be anything more interesting than a late night TV movie. Keanu Reeves looks good as Klaatu but he looks bored out of his brains in the part, simply moving from one scene to another in monotonous fashion. There is nothing inspired in his performance. Jennifer Connolly fares a little better but not much. There are no dramatic highs or lows, but simply plot points. The appearances of the alien spheres could have been a creepy/wondrous moment, but instead, we’re treated to cross-cutting of the usual army scenes with tanks and fighter jets opening fire with news bulletins on how global markets are reacting to the alien presence (the latter is especially odd – you would think an alien arrival would stop market trading completely). By the time the end credits roll, you get the feeling you have not been taken on any sort of journey, but rather an exercise in uninspired technique, which is a shame given the strong story and themes at the heart of this film.

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Todd Murphy is a staff reviewer at the film/DVD review web site, All About – for all the latest reviews on the newest releases. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog:

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