The Day the Earth Stood Still

Bomb Rating: 

If you are going to make a movie with a message, make sure that you are clear what that message really is.  It’s virtually guaranteed that audiences packing the theatre to see the latest Keanu Reeves blockbuster aren’t used to cognitive puzzles anymore complex than "insert dollar face up - push big plastic button - get frosty beverage."  This means that they are unlikely to piece together your disjointed narrative and draw their own conclusions from the sparse trail of breadcrumbs you left scattered throughout the movie’s excruciatingly expository dialogue. 

Director Scott Derrickson, perhaps best known for hammering out yet another direct-to-DVD installment of the Hellraiser franchise, proves that Hollywood lightning rarely strikes twice with this completely lackluster remake of the groundbreaking for its time film "The Day The Earth Stood Still."

"Updating" a classic never really works, unless by "update" you mean "stuff it full of big tits and fireballs."  Unfortunately, Dickerson went heavy on the fireballs and clothed Jennifer Connelly’s xenobiologist character in a thick mom-sweater that hides her generous chest melons and adds a layer of dignity to her performance that the film truly doesn’t deserve. 

This is especially true when given some of the film’s more egregious plotting errors.  A brief example:  Connelly is summoned by the government to investigate the imminent ‘impact’ of a huge interstellar body with New York City, what is the first thing they do?  Send the best and brightest scientists in the nation up in helicopters to WATCH THE IMPACT FROM AS CLOSE A VANTAGE POINT AS POSSIBLE.  Obviously, nobody in this brain trust was familiar with the basic physics of big fast rock hitting bigger planet, but more likely is the fact that they knew it was an alien ship about to land and they just SKIPPED the scene explaining why the scientists were put in harm’s way in the first place.  But hey, Hollywood hates real science nearly as much as they hate a narrative that takes the time to actually form a cohesive story, and one gets the feeling that lurking somewhere on the cutting room floor amidst endless takes of Reeves falling asleep in mid-take are miles of footage explaining half the shit that happened in this movie. 

This gap in the film’s plot was the first of many as the screenwriter lurched from scene to scene like a drunken school bus driven intent on collecting as many kids with his front bumper as possible before passing out.  Keanu wanders around New Jersey, alternately shitting out cringe-worthy dialogue and staring off into space at something only he can see. 

Apparently at one point he releases a plague of nanobots on the Earth, something I myself would have welcomed with open arms had they chosen to attack the theatre I was trapped in first, but instead I was forced to watch them swarm across the industrial wastelands of the Garden States before being cryptically destroyed by Reeves’ character without any explanation. 

This brings us to the single worst aspect of the film - the end.  Trapped underneath a bridge surrounded by buzzing grey metallic insects, Keanu tells Connelly that he can stop the apocalypse he has unleashed, but that it would ‘come at a great cost to your people and your way of life’.  He then walks through the storm to his ship and sets off some kind of pulse that seems to knock out the creatures, and then launches the vessel back into space.  We are treated to a few seconds of the power going out in various industrial facilities around the country (including an auto assembly line, a nice touch, given the release date), and then the credits roll.

That’s it – there’s barely even a segue. No word on if that ‘terrible cost’ was just a brief brownout or the end of all technology as we know it, as the audience is instead forced to write their own conclusion to this stinkfest inside their own heads, almost like a "choose your own adventure" book except when you flip to the final act it just says "this page intentionally left blank."  Just like Keanu’s face.

Unfortunately, not at all like the massive paycheck he received for this film, which ranks up there with the Solaris remake as one of the worst sci-fi redux experiments of all time.


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I couldn't disagree with you more. My wife and I both enjoyed it

Coaster's picture

I don't get all the hate for this film. I watched the original the night before and thought this interpretation which had its differences was none-the-less true to the original in spirit. Keanu as Klaatu was casting genius and the New and Improved Gort kicked five kinds of ass. On its own, this was a nice sci-fi outing, and a great update for a classic that's actually as old as I am.

Dynamite my butt.  I'd have rated this TWO BOMBS.

Confusing? Not at all. Well maybe just a little....

Coaster's picture

bhunting wrote:

If you are going to make a movie with a message, make sure that you are clear what that message really is.

The message is that we are destroying our planet.  If anything, you should have complained that the director was hitting us over the head with this, not that the director was being cryptic.


bhunting wrote:

the audience is instead forced to write their own conclusion.

It seemed rather obvious:  To stop the bugs, he had to shut off the world's electrical power, permanently.

I'd like to add that the nanobot swarm was a rather cool special effect.


Can somebody puleeeeze tall me what the last two lines in the film were?  It sounded to me like Jennifer Connolly said to the Smith kid, "He's leaving", and the Smith kid replied, "No, he's leaving." I don't get it. Did I mishear that?


What Jennifer actually said was,

RidingFool's picture

"You all hoped you'd get a gander at my breasts*, but that just wasn't gonna happen in this movie."

*edited to remove the reference to 'tits', and replaced with 'breasts'.


GrumpyDave's picture

Coaster wrote:

The message is that we are destroying our planet.

We are NOT destroying our planet. That hippy-dippy crap is just another expression of human arrogance. The real reason we should take care of our environment is so we can continue to live in it. All of human history is only a tiny fraction of the amount of time the Earth has been around. Worst-case scenario, we go extinct, and after a brief (in geologic terms) adjustment period, the planet carries on like nothing ever happened. Anyone who's truly knowledgeable about environmental issues can tell you that. Of course, that didn't stop people like you from making this pile of compost THE NUMBER ONE MOVIE IN AMERICA! Grrr.

I would say the worst we

Decaf's picture

I would say the worst we could do is cause a mass extinction.

but it is true that life will go on with or without us.

more likely without us 


 Formerly Known as MasterKlives


We're ALREADY causing a mass extinction!

FearlessFreep's picture

It's just a question of degree.


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

aye. we could be called a

Decaf's picture

aye. we could be called a natural disaster 


 Formerly Known as MasterKlives


Yes, we're the asteroid this time

Rajah's picture

Future scientists will scratch their antennas wondering what caused this mass extinction

If humans were to disappear today in ten thousand years there'd be no sign that we were even here. There would be fossils of course but no sign of our "great" civilization. Well, maybe our toilet bowls...

we're more like the dust

Decaf's picture

we're more like the dust cloud from the asteroid that blocked out the sun, changing the climate and eliminating all life that couldn't deal with that climate 


 Formerly Known as MasterKlives


I don't know if any of you caught it....

Rajah's picture

But Gort turned into the nanobot swarm

My biggest disappointment was the all too brief appearence of John Cleese as Professor Barnhardt. "There's a thousand questions I'd like to ask you" Barnhardt said. Yeah, it would have been nice if he answered at least one. He sort of answered the one about "why are you here?" but it was short on explaination. The same thing happened in the original movie only he didn't tell it to Barnhardt he told it to that Benson woman.

There was little slow down time in the film. It would have been nice to have a period with more dialogue. It was like they were rushing to get to the end of this crapfest.

Another goofy thing about the scientists that some may have missed. When they recovered the creature after it had been shot they took off their protective suits while they were bringing it into the hospital. They didn't know at the time there was a huminiod type creature inside. For all they knew it could have had space herpes or something!

What really was not explained

Rajah's picture

Was exactly why he changed his mind about destroying us. "There's another side to us humans" just doesn't cut it for me.


gamerarocks's picture

As of late Hollywood can't write an ending unless it ties into a sequel; therefore not an ending.

Michael Rennie was ill the Day The Earth Stood Still...

Wulfgar's picture

...because Keanu was cast in his role...








~I'm going to Hell and I just don't care.~


I'm sure he's spinning in his grave

Rajah's picture

Damn you Keanu!

Eh, i liked it..

Drew_Atreides's picture

Have to agree with Coaster....

I really don't get all the hate for this movie.   It stays very true to the spirit of the original while (imo) successfully updating it for the present day and our concerns.

I do wish the Barnhardt scene had gone on longer, but i also really enjoyed the debate that Klaatu and the Professor had going for it.  A couple of very interesting insights into the current human condition.

This movie does not deserve anywhere near the slagging it's taking.  At least it made money, though.   I was planning on heading out to see the new "Punisher" movie tonite only to discover it's left theatres all ready.

It was THAT bad?


The cockpit.. what is it?

"One can only hope that in the future [Keanu Reeves] will ...

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

... devote himself to playing androids, less-self-aware species of undead, stylish pieces of contemporary furniture, and other roles that do not require the exhibition of any recognizably human traits."

From a review by, Christopher Orr in the New Republic

{;-) Dan in Miami


 PS:  Maybe I will give this flick a miss.  Especially since it's at 12% on the Tomatometer for top critics.


Thank you Dan and Mr Orr

gamerarocks's picture

Any chance I get to giggle at the carp, to the girlfriend's dismay, is always entertaining.

Well you could have voted up my post

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

hint, hint

{;-) Dan in Miami

Done and done

gamerarocks's picture

My bad

I still say it wasn't any better or even as good as the original

Rajah's picture

And why change the message? Are we any less violent than we were in the early 50's? If anything we're probably more violent. The changes they made from the original weren't improvements. For one thing Klaatu didn't harm a soul in the original movie even when he neutralized most of the electrical power he left it on in hospitals, planes in flight etc. Yeah, there were a few analogies to the Jesus story but not enough to be preachy. I think the relationship between Klaatu and Bobby would have played differently in the present day but other than that I would have been happy if they stuck to the original movie more. Sure nowadays they could create a better Gort. So what he shuffled around, when he opened up his visor he could melt a tank!

A shot for shot remake would have made you happy? Sorry.

Coaster's picture

But we can't do that.  All the stars from that one are dead, and Gort was recycled into parking enforcement boots and laser printer replacement parts.

Rajah wrote:

And why change the message? Are we any less violent than we were in the early 50's? If anything we're probably more violent.

The message changed because times have changed.  Nowadays, kids don't go to bed scared that they might die in a nukular holocaust (They instead go to sleep worried that vast incarnations of American Idol will replace their favorite teen angst show).  We're more violent than we were in the 60's, we just don't care about it.  So the message change was a good move.  

Footnote:  My son hated the remake.  This is not a good sign for the word of mouth driven box office for TDTESS V2.0.  This is because he likes everything including the rare movies I myself see in first run and end up not liking.

Kudos for your son Absalom!

Rajah's picture

Okay, maybe not a line for line remake but at least a movie sans Keanu. Besides it would be hard to find a replacement for Aunt Bea in the original.

I would rather that it not have been made at all.

GrumpyDave's picture

Let's see some good, original movies instead of all this remake crap!

^^^ Right On!

Rajah's picture

If you can't make it better then don't touch the classics

Coaster said they should remake Forbidden Planet

A public flogging is in order!!!

I must say, remakes are getting annoying...

TMundo's picture what shoud be remade or turned into a film?  A short story?  A comic book?  A graphic novel?

I always say it's the stuff that was unpopular but had potential that should be remade.  It's the same rule that music carries.  A song that wasn't all that big should be remade.  For example, "Oh Where Oh Where has my Baby Gone." was remade by Pearl Jam and was successful, although albeit, it was quite a genre change for Pearl Jam.  How about when groups of similar styles remake a song.  Steve Wonder asked The Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover Higher Ground.  But should Maddona have covered Ameican Pie?  Should Puff Daddy have covered Kashmir?  In my opinion no.  These songs were already popular in a completely different genre of music.

The same goes for films.  You don't want to piss off fans of the original.  And if there are a lot of fans, you may make money at the door, but in the long run you could loose out.

Unfortunately you're probaby still going to profit on the "name recognition" as Mr. Cranky put it.  People who were fans of the original will go and see it just out of curiosity.  So you can't stop the remakes, unless you boycott them.  SO if you want originality from Hollywood, stop seeing their crumby remakes.

Some movies should be deemed untouchable

Rajah's picture

There should be something like a copyright were the creator of a film can prevent people messing with it even after they're dead.

Like Hitchcock's movies should be untouchable. I mean what could you possibly improve besides maybe the special effects. It's like a certain director that keeps going back to his own movies and changing the special effects. Sure the effects are better but has the movie really improved? Is C3PO any less gay? Is Jar Jar Binks any less annoying?

And now I saw it

gamerarocks's picture

Holy fuck.  John Cleese is the Nobel Laureate to the stars in sociology?  I was unaware they gave out Nobel's for sociology.  "Yeah we're gonna take samples of life off the planet before we disinfect it.  Oh no wait, we think more of the Monty Python transmissions and he conviced us we're wrong."  Puleeeze.  The review says that the scientists were taken to all but ground zero before the expected impact.  I knew that couldn't be true.  WRONG.  The astronomer would have laughed at the military person pointing the gun to his head in threat letting said person know he'd just be saving him a trip in a helicopter.  No scientist alive would be caught dead in such a situation, and something tells me that no president worth his science advisor would even allow the military that close.  A swarm of nanobots is faster than a speeding semi but can barely touch an SUV?  The windshield is closer to Keanu (my girlfriends reason for going in the first place) than the kid in the back seat.  The only reason this movie could logically even be made was to allow Jennifer Connelly an avenue to show how motherly she could be.  I desparately wanted Harold Zoid to make a cameo appearance just to yell "EMOTE!" at any character.  It's comforting to know that Hollywood continues to exhibit a total lack of military and political respect as to insist that our first response to a civilization that could obliterate us without blinking is to piss them off.  Uh huh.

2 bombs?  This may not be proof that Jesus died in vain, but it's not helping the cause either.

Little Help Here

Coaster's picture

Man, you sure take your scienced fiction seriously. 

What were the last lines said between Mother of my dreams and Child from Hell? 

It's like recalling what I saw in a 10 car pile up

gamerarocks's picture

The pain, the pain.  There was the obligitory 'Mom' in there somewhere, and the kid did utter 'I love you' during the final hug.  I honestly don't remember Connelly's response.  (although that may be due to my attempts to stifle my giggles so as to not ruin the end for other movie going patrons)

I don't necessarily take my scienced fiction seriously, but with the word science tossed in a movie with a message like that one I'd like to see SOME basics of science observed.  There's plenty of fun to be had with ignoring science for the sake of amusement, but if you're going to postulate that you're bothering to gather the top scientists 2 minutes in then I'm going to bother to notice if they're not behaving as such.  Denise Richards came off as a Nukuler Physicist better than the group in the chopper proved to be.

Same old scenario used in so many sci-fi movies

Rajah's picture

An alien or monster comes to earth and the military comes in to muck everything up. Usually I'm rooting for the alien/monster but in this case I'd be happy if they went ahead and destroyed this one. A so much better job was done in Star Man. I really liked Jeff Bridges portrayal of an alien.

Unfortunately yes

gamerarocks's picture

It's like a Stephen King book; the process is set in granite and nothing can change it.  I'm crying inside.

Klaatu Verata Neo!

gamerarocks's picture

Just heard that bit on the radio from the Great someone or another, doesn't matter it was better by FAR than this lanced boil 

One out of four people is freakishly stupid. If three of your friends are normal, then it's you.


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