"the day the earth stood still (2008)" film review


Normally I save the movie reviews for my MySpace blog, which practically the only thing I use MySpace for these days. But with the amount of movies I watch, I need some way of keeping track of the newer ones (not necessarily recently released, but movies I’ve seen for the first time). So the easiest way is to write reviews on them recording my first, or even second impressions. Most of these movies I watch at home via store rentals, TV and of course Netflix. I don’t get to the theater as often as I’d like to, but when I’m there, the movie usually has a different feel to it than when I’m at home. BUT the theaters don’t have special DVD features that I sometimes watch before rating… so there’s that to keep in mind. I respect a lot of the professional film critics, but I don’t write like them. I like to tell my thoughts “unadulterated” like you are a regular person and whether or not you should see it. Again, check my MySpace to see more. But on with the review!


First of all, if you didn’t know, this is a remake of the 1951 original by the same name. I actually did see the original a few months ago to prepare for the new one, so the story was pretty fresh in my head, and I really liked the original. Starting out, I would recommend that whether you see this new one in theaters or not, watch the original.

And I am not knocking the remake. Apparently the professional critics didn’t care very much for it (and neither did some people on the message board at IMDb.com). I actually rather liked it. Much like the original, there’s a lot of tension and suspense. There is some action as well, but probably not enough to keep serial sleepers (like my dad) awake unless they just woke up or eating something. We’re all guilty of that sometimes no matter how entertaining a movie is. I went in with a cup of coffee because I was feeling sleepy before I went in, so that’s different. Having seen the original, I knew what to expect and was waiting for certain plot points to fall into place. Most of them did, but others were changed–like the relationship between the lead character Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) and the wee boy Jacob (Jaden Smith). I’d just like to make a note here that this boy is a spitting image of his father. It’s also brought to my attention (from a friend) that he looks like a very younger version of me… hair included. I’m still not sure how I feel about this but at least I know who can play the child version of myself in my autobiography.

Anyway, what I think could draw people in with curiosity is the giant globe things seems in the trailers. Or maybe it’s Gort, the giant robot Klaatu brings with him. Special effects can help tell the story, as long as there is some kind of story to tell. I must admit, I do like how they upgraded him from the original AND kept him looking pretty much the same. I like how they came up with calling him Gort… instead it was more like G.O.R.T. The military and their acronyms. What I did miss (and perhaps it was my own ears) was the key famous phrase everyone knows from the original. “Klaatu barada nikto!” I rather not discuss the significance of that phrase at this point, but if it said in the new one, please let me know. Really though, I can’t stop geeking out about Gort. Maybe it’s an “original vs. remake” thing. Naturally the remake has better effects and a better spaceship. Oh yeah, and the original never had so much product placement in it. This made me laugh. But it also makes me want a touch screen computer. And maybe some fries.

But let’s talk about the message this movie brings. It’s actually not that far off from the original as well, but both of them don’t want to tell you right away (adding to the suspense). All you know is that Earth, or the people on Earth will be destroyed if this warning is not heard by those who can take action. That is what Klaatu (in both versions) requests, to speak with the leaders of Earth. And hey, it’s probably for these movies that make all the other aliens in popular movies frequently request “Take me to your leader.” The reason why he wishes to meet with the leaders is indeed a real life threat. I’d even argue that the message in the original is somewhat still a real life threat. It was more so at the time that movie was made, but nevertheless, it gave a serious reason for an alien to come for a “visit.” And does the Earth actually stand still? I’ll just say it was another slight difference between the original and remake. Regardless, a point was made and perhaps a real life alien won’t come to our planet with similar messages to make.

Overall, I’d recommend this movie to people who enjoy a good sci-fi dramatic piece, as well as those who like a little disaster flick mixed in. I think Keanu Reeves plays a great Klaatu. Even though he doesn’t seem that different from other characters he may have played, the role isn’t meant to have a lot of emotion. I heard critics say this movie moved too slow or didn’t hit the potential it could’ve reached… I’m not sure what they were expecting. Again, I suggest watching the original if you get the chance. I’ll be watching the original very soon yet again, and I’d buy both of these movies. It’d be great if they were packaged together. And the question I know I’d be asked… what’s better overall–original or remake? I like them both, and depending on who you are, I’d recommend either the old or new version. But if you can, see both and decide for yourself.

On a side note, watch out for a knock-off “mockbuster” by the name of The Day The Earth Stopped. If you frequent the Hollywood Video and Blockbuster rental movie chains, you might see movies that look/sound strikingly similar to something released in a theater. Honestly, it’s a little annoying, but also quite hilarious to see them (on the shelf). I don’t plan on seeing any of these titles for fear of time wasted. If you are a renter, it’s worth the wait to see the real movie.

Score: *****

(Oh yeah, and just like on my MySpace blog, I give ratings… While I attempt at staying original but easy to understand, I use askerisks from 1 (sometimes 0) to 5, ***** being the best.)

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Posted in movie, review, theater
One comment on “"the day the earth stood still (2008)" film review
  1. Melissa Donovan says:

    I’ll probably wait till this one is on-demand. Too many others in my queue that I’m anxious to see. The original was on television recently but I missed it. Perhaps I’ll catch it next time around. Of course, now that I have a TV time slot open every Monday for the next six weeks, maybe I can catch up on films… ;)

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