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DVD Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)


I finally got around to watching the 2008 remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still staring Keanu Reeves as the alien Klaatu, Jennifer Connelly as the professor and mother Dr. Helen Benson, and Jaden Smith as the annoying stepson, Jacob. I had heard it wasn't very good, and I didn't find anything special about the original, so I was in no hurry. And now that I've seen it, I'm glad I went in with lowered expectations, because I believe that helped me to enjoy it more than I would have otherwise. Yes, I did not hate it! More than that, I actually enjoyed it more than the original version. Gasp all you want, I'd rather watch the remake again over the original... unless I'm trying to get to sleep. Of course, that doesn't mean I thought this movie was great or anything, but it held my interest all the way though, and I only rolled my eyes a few times.

The film starts out with a scene that wasn't involved in the original where a guy (played by Keanu Reeves) is in some arctic climate and sees a strange glowing sphere behind some ice, and when he chips away some of the ice to get a better look he is knocked unconscious, awaking to find some kind of round scar on his hand. This scene is basically just here to explain how Klaatu is later able to take the form of Keanu Reeves, because right after that we flash forward to present day and that opening scene is never revisited or mentioned again. The point is that the sphere takes his DNA so that when they come back they come in the form of a human instead of whatever freaky alien beings they actually are.

Alright, so we're in present day now, and we meet Dr. Helen Benson (a scientist and professor, not a medical doctor) and her annoying stepson Jacob. Since an alien spacecraft is on it's way to Earth (though we're not supposed to know that yet), the government does it's whole national security thing and basically kidnaps Dr. Benson from her house, along with a whole team of other super smart people that really play no part in the movie. It would have been nice to see this team debating stuff and trying to figure crap out, but instead we get a hardass Secretary of Defense (played by Kathy Bates) who tries to control everything though force even though any sane person could see that the only one with control here is the alien, and trying to use force will just make things worse.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! Okay, so the spaceship lands, some weird looking alien creature steps out, and is then shot for no reason by some trigger happy fool. Why in the world would you even have guns pointed at this thing? What, you think that if it attacks you can just shoot it and say "well, that takes care of that"? You don't think that a species capable of intergalactic space travel has the ability to completely destroy you all?! We have the ability to destroy us all, so you better believe that they could wipe us out if they wanted. What the hell is wrong with you people!

Anyway, the shot alien is brought into a government medical area somewhere and his skin starts falling off until he's revealed to be Keanu Reeves. Now we're up to the point where the Secretary of Defense was telling Klaatu that he couldn't leave or talk to Earth's leaders or anything and that he could only do what she says and nothing else... and tries to drug him. This is pretty much one of those roll-your-eyes parts. It's hard to believe anyone would act that foolish... but then again, we do constantly see this kind of idiotic from our leaders all over the news, so who knows.

Thankfully, Dr. Benson knows that is wrong and helps Klaatu escape, and takes him to meet someone he wanted to meet, I won't say why, then afterwards takes him to a really smart Nobel Prize winning dude named Professor Barnhardt in an attempt to show Klaatu that we're all not a bunch of dumbasses. Oh yeah, and while all of this is going on, the government is not only searching for Klaatu by posting his face all over the news saying he's a convict or something, but they also captured GORT, the giant robot-like thing that came out of the spaceship with Klaatu. I say again, what the hell is wrong with these people?! So an alien comes out of his ship, you shoot him, imprison him, then steal his giant robot?

And I haven't really even mentioned Jacob, who seems to really hate his stepmom because his dad died in Iraq and she takes care of him... um, I guess that makes sense... in which parallel world is this taking place again? Because he's not dumb by any means, and should know that that she could have just dumped him in an orphanage and forgot about him, but instead she loves him and cares for him and lets him play videogames and whatnot. His whole brooding thing eventually turns into love and happiness, of course, which Klaatu witnesses and helps him to understand more about the complexities of human emotions... but really? Why is it that in pretty much every sci-fi film humans are the only ones with complex emotions? So your species has survived long enough to master intergalactic space travel but you've never in all that time experienced anything love love or hate? Then why do you do what you do? Because your bored?

Special effects... we all know this movie has a ton of special effects, and they're mostly pretty good, or I should say typical of decent effects nowadays, so I don't think I really need to get into that. It's pretty much what you would expect, nothing new or amazing that will blow your mind or anything. Alright, enough about this movie, lets move on to special features:

  • Deleted Scenes - 3 deleted scenes, and all were good decisions
  • Re-Imagining The Day - half hour long featurette about remaking the classic film
  • Unleashing GORT - about 15 minutes showing the various designs and evolutions of the new GORT... pretty interesting, they had some really cool designs that could be well used in future sci-fi flicks.
  • Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life - some people just have to believe...
  • The Day the Earth Was "Green" - a featurette about how they were trying to be a lot more environmentally friendly on the set.
  • Commentary By Writer David Scarpa
  • Still Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Gort Art Contest Winners

So a nice variety of special features, with a few featurettes that were interesting and not too long. And while the movie had some issues, I'd still recommend renting it.

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