The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

“The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)” The_Day_the_Earth_Stood_Still

This film is a re-make of the 1951 film of the same name.  The storyline is almost identical, so you don’t lose a lot there.  The message of the plot can be summarized as this: humans need to change their ways.  Basically, both the original film and this re-make are stating that humans are self-destructive and are very nearly unworthy of any “higher being” taking note of us – except to destroy us.  Truthfully, I liked this message.  It’s very true of us as a race, but nobody seems to be willing to change that.  So, if you are looking for a “feel good” movie, this is most certainly not it.  If you were looking for a quality re-make of a classic sci-fi drama piece with updated special effects and some fine acting courtesy of Keanu Reeves, then this is the movie for you.

As a boy, I grew up enjoying some of these then-outdated classics from the ‘50s about UFOs and aliens coming to Earth to wreak havoc.  One of my favorites was always “The Thing From Another World”.  “Day” was another one of those.  However, I always longed for more action and aliens in “Day”.  Silly thought, I know, but 8 year old boys really just want to see cool stuff!  The heavy-handed, anti-war message of “Day” was lost on me until I was much older.  Still, I find the film lacking that “punch” of “oomph” that other sci-fi films offer.

The re-make of this movie has really only one highlight: Keanu Reeves.  I know a lot of folks don’t think much of him as an actor, but I have always and will continue to disagree with that assessment.  I think I have seen nearly every piece of work he has done in his career, so I have a lot to compare it to.  He plays an alien being to a far greater degree than the 1951 version, then played by Michael Rennie.  Reeves has a way of delivering his lines with a cold and very detached manner, which is exactly what I would expect an alien being to sound like.

The big disappointment for me was the failure to include one of the greatest sci-fi quotes of all time into this re-make.  The line is “Klaatu barada nikto”.  As any good sci-fi and horror film nut can tell you, this quote turns up in another cult classic “Army of Darkness” with Bruce Campbell.  That’s not the only place though: George Lucas also named 3 distinct races in his “Star Wars” universe after those words.

All in all, the film isn’t a bad movie, nor a disrespectful re-make of a classic.  It just lacks something.  That something I still can’t quite identify, but it whatever it is, it wasn’t in the movie.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

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One thought on “The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

  1. Yeah, the remake didn’t really work for me either. The original is one of my all time favourites and a masterpiece in it’s own right, taking what could be viewed on the surface as a B-movie (robot, flying saucer) and infusing it with layers of social commentary addressing issues – as you say in your review, the self-destructiveness of humanity – that seem just as relevant today as they did back in the 1950s.

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