The Day The Earth Stood Still
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 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.
THE best science fiction operates with the realms of possibility. In 1951, Robert Wise’s The Day The Earth Stood Still examined the imminent destruction of humanity by aliens because of the threat posed by nuclear war.
Scott Derrickson’s 2008 re-imagining places mankind’s existence at threat because of the damage caused by global warming, making it a thinking man’s blockbuster that’s very much of its time.
Mankind’s future is placed in the hands of alien visitor Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), who has been sent to judge its capacity for change in the wake of the environmental damage they have inflicted upon the planet.
It’s up to Dr Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and her stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith) to convince him that they are before it’s too late and he triggers their destruction.
The film is arguably at its most engaging when exploring the tipping point between survival and extinction. Some of the points it raises are very valid within the modern context and by adopting a refreshingly restrained approach to the carnage, Derrickson allows plenty of room for thought.
It’s just a shame that he fails to engage on an emotional level, with the mankind he depicts not really doing anything to convince they’re worth saving.
Jaden (son of Will) Smith’s Jacob is particularly ineffective, emerging as precocious and annoying rather than sympathetic or redeemable. But Connelly’s Dr Benson could also do with some lessons in exercising parental discipline! The belated lessons both learn feel contrived rather than convincing.
Audiences may also struggle to take John Cleese seriously as a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, while Kathy Bates is too one dimensional as a gung-ho Secretary of Defence.
Reeves, however, does offer good value as Klaatu and appears suitably disconnected throughout.
Derrickson, for his part, does handle the special effects and imagery well, dropping in some impressive destruction late on, as well as some provocative imagery that veers towards the religious on several occasions.
As remakes go, therefore, The Day The Earth Stood Still is more worthwhile than most and, for once, you don’t feel that time has entirely stood still between the original and its successor.
Running time: 105mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: April 20, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Buy the original on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read the review
- Keanu Reeves interview
- Scott Derrickson interview
- The Day The Earth Stood Still photos