an unidentified object enters our solar and it heading towards Earth, the
US government gathers together their best scientists to analyse the situation
and offer a possible solution. As the clock ticks down to impact, Helen
Benson (Connelly) and the rest of the scientists realise that the object
is actually slowing down and coming into land in New York. When the clouds
clear a huge sphere is left in the middle of Central Park and a humanoid
walks out of the light but he is greeted by the US Army and is shot by a
panic driven soldier. A huge mechinoid then appears attacking the armed
forces but the humanoid shuts him down with a voice command and as medical
team rush in the Secretary of Defence Regina Jackson (Bates) believes the
visitor's appearance is the prelude to an invasion.
fascination with remaking old movies continues but when attempt to remake
a true classic of the science fiction genre then it better be good, unfortunately
this definitely isn't.
a remake of a 1950s science fiction B-Movie can surpass the original, just
look at John Carpenter's remake 'The Thing' but when we are talking about
one of the truly defining pieces of Sci-Fi, 'The Day the Earth Stood Still',
you have a really high standard to set. The 1951 original directed by Robert
Wise, the man who would later go onto helm other science fiction classics
'The Andromeda Strain' and 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', as well as other
beloved pieces of movie history 'West Side Story' and 'The Sound of Music',
the movie was based on a story by Harry Bates and adapted by Edmund H. North
into movie that was not only a fantastic piece of science fiction but a
statement on the political climate of the world in the 1950s.
a time when the Cold War was taking hold and the tensions between the US
and Russia were escalating out of control, the story of an Alien coming
to Earth to warn the human race that if they continued on this destructive
path they would have to step in and remove them from the planet. It wasn't
until that alien, named Klaatu, spent time amongst the humans that he realised
that they could change and a warning would be all they need to change their
ways. Now, over fifty years later that premise is still relevant today but
instead of a warning about changing our warring ways, it is our destroying
of the planet's environment that has gained the attention of the aliens.
This time instead of a huge flying saucer landing in Washington D.C. and
the brilliant Michael Rennie emerging from the ship to deliver the warning,
we have a huge glowing sphere landing in New York's Central Park and Keanu
Reeves emerging from it but while the visual effects and the sheer scope
of this landing have been injected with all the visual effects muscle that
Hollywood can provide these days, it doesn't really have the same impact.
Yes the scene is the same and the military reaction to this alien is again
greeted by a retaliation by Klaatu's protector, the huge robot GORT but
from then on this is a slightly different movie.
when Klaatu leaves the 'care' of the US military, instead of spending time
amongst the people to help him realise that the Human race is one worth
preserving, he spends his time on the run with Dr. Helen Benson, one of
the scientists who examined him but then helped in his escape, played by
the always good Jennifer Connelly and her adopted son. Now, while this was
meant to show the power of family and an understanding of human grief, you,
the audience are just left wondering how Klaatu hasn't just destroyed the
Earth after spending five minutes of time with Jaden Smith's irritatingly
wining character, Jacob Benson. The character is the epitome of reason why
some people refuse to have children and if he is supposed to represent what
is good about the human race, even with all his problems, then the Earth
Keanu Reeves been completely wooden throughout (no change there then), Jennifer
Connelly and Kathy Bates as Secretary of Defence Regina Jackson trying their
best, John Cleese representing the 'clever' people of Earth and Jaden Smith
been as irritating as hell it could have been easy for the message of the
film to be lost amongst these awful characters and over-the-top and slightly
underwhelming visual effects but fortunately it doesn't. The problem is
as the movie builds to its conclusion, instead of the impact and the message
that the original had at the end, this movie just ends with no reinforcement
of the warning that we are destroying the planet. While some might say that
this is assumed, it is more likely that some might think that this was a
victory for the American Government and its military might as they have
forced the sphere to leave and the human race to be spared. The message
will still get through however, as it is still one of the best ever conceived
in science fiction but it you really want to heed Klaatu's warning, then
watch the 1951 original because this version has been very diluted.
Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the transfer is good.
Scenes (2.04 mins)
Entitled 'Equipment is issued to the scientists', 'Helen and Granier discuss
the shot' and 'Extended version of Klaatu being wheeled down the hallway',
these deleted and extended scenes suffer from the lack of an introduction
or commentary to explain why they were removed.
The Day (30.07 mins)
Director Scott Derrickson, producer Erwin Staff, screenwriter David Scarpa,
author/film historian Paul M. Sammon, author: Robert Wise: A Bio-Bibliography)
and stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly try and explain why they wanted
to remake a classic. With the change from possible nuclear confrontation
between the US and USSR and the human race's impact on the environment,
the film's production team look back onto the classic original and talk
through the changes they made to update the story.
GORT (13.52 mins)
Director Scott Derrickson, producer Erwin Staff, screenwriter David Scarpa
and character designer Aaron Sims talk about the design of the new version
of GORT. Revealing the many designs as to how GORT should look and then
recreating the 50s look of the robot, this featurette shows how they shouldn't
change something that worked in the original.
the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life (23.09 mins)
Senior Astronomer - SETI Institute Seth Shostak is joined by fellow astrophysicists
to talk about finding extra-solar planets, the search for intelligent life,
UFO sightings and the chances of communicating with other life.
The Day the Earth was 'Green' (14.05 mins)
Producer Erwin Staff and production designer David Brisbin talk about the
environmental issues of the film and trying to be as carbon neutral as a
production as they possibly can.
View shots from the concept art, storyboards and production photographs
by writer David Scarpa
The man who has tried to update a classic talks about the changes he has
made, the influence of '2001: A Space Odyssey', the spheres and the influence
of Keanu Reeves on the production. This is a decent single person commentary
but it would have been helped by the inclusion of the director or a star.
DVD treatment for remake of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is much better
than the film itself. Fans of the film will enjoy the featurettes and the
commentary but the 'Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life'
featurette is well worth watching as it reveal a lot about the scientific
approach to finding alien life. This is a decent DVD for fans of the film,
if there are any.
Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
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