The Day The Earth Stood Still review (2023)

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Ron hopes for the best as Hollywood remakes the Citizen Kane of sci-fi movies...

The Day The Earth Stood Still review (1) By Ron Hogan | |

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The Day The Earth Stood Still is a science fiction classic, so when it was announced that a remake was in the works, fans naturally began wailing and gnashing their teeth in anguish. And that was before they announced the cast included Keanu Reeves! While I’m generally in the anti-remakes camp, as are most Geeks at the site, I can acknowledge that remakes aren’t all bad. See The Fly and The Thing for two examples of how remakes can be a positive benefit by adding cool new special effects. The Day The Earth Stood Still is a great example, too.

A great example of why remakes by filmmakers who are completely devoid of good ideas should be banned from video stores.

Earth is in a crisis. It seems like every other big-budget action movie features Earth in some sort of crisis or another, but this one has to do with a speeding object heading straight towards Manhattan. That means it’s time to trot out the scientists, including a girl scientist named Helen Benson (a wasted Jennifer Connelly). Of course, since this is the government, by the time they dispatch 18 vehicles to pick up one person and take them to the airport, they’ve already screwed around so much that all they can do is fly scientists to the impending crash site.

Except there’s no crash. What’s thought to be a meteor turns out to be a gigantic, lame-looking CGI globe. The military rushes into position, thoughtfully surrounding the giant marble (rather than establishing a clean line of fire to avoid missing the globe and hitting people on the other side) so that when the alien steps out, someone’s able to shoot him before he can deliver his message of peace and love. The alien visitor, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), is taken immediately into government custody.


(Video) The Remaker: The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951 vs. 2008

Meanwhile, other mysterious alien bowling balls appear throughout the planet, and it’s up to the Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) and the United States to beat the information out of the alien: What is he here for? Is he peaceful or dangerous? When is Johnny Mnemonic 2 getting made? It’s a damn shame this movie skipped its chance to waterboard Keanu Reeves for awhile, because I would’ve paid double to see that.

Anyway, the alien escapes, and like a malevolent ET, he depends on Helen and Helen’s stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith) to get him. Well, I’m not really sure where they were trying to go to begin with, but the end result is more chases, an angry Gort, and a lot of loud, staggeringly bright things happening on screen. The way I describe it is more exciting than the actual movie.

Keanu Reeves has finally been cast in the role he was born to play. That role is Klaatu, or at least this movie’s version of Klaatu. I mean, who else could play a monosyllabic, emotionless, soulless automaton better than Keanu? Maybe a wax dummy, but it’d be a pretty close tie as the dummy might be too much intelligence in its glass eyes.

This movie’s one lone bright spot from an acting standpoint is that John Cleese is involved (he gets the only good interaction the movie’s humans have with Klaatu). Kathy Bates just looks bored. Jennifer Connelly simply spends the movie fretting nervously. Jaden Smith wasn’t terribly obnoxious as child actors go (he’s not even a full point on the Jonathan Lipnicki Scale of Child Actor Obnoxiousness), but someone desperately needs to give that kid a decent haircut because he looks like the lovechild of Macy Gray and Howdy Doody.

Maybe it’s just because they’re in the same movie with Keanu Reeves, but every single extra in this film seemed to be chewing the scenery like hungry termites. Reeves is about as expressive as one of those giant stone heads on Easter Island, I’ll grant you that, but someone should have told the background players (especially Robert Knepper) to tone it down. A lot. It was as big and showy as silent movie acting at some points, and it made it hard not to laugh at the already outlandish script.

The twitching and flailing just brought extra attention to how lame the script by David Scarpa was. This is only his second work on the big screen, the other being the underwhelming The Last Castle, and it shows. Kathy Bates and Jennifer Connelly have nothing to work with. Kathy gets a generic, clueless government bitch role, and Jennifer is reduced to a whining, begging waste. You’d think the movie could find something interesting about two powerful female roles, but you’d be wrong. If these two characters were my only exposure to humanity, I’d want to destroy the earth, too.


(Video) The Day The Earth Stood Still Movie Review

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Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) isn’t the sort of director I’d trust a big-budget movie to. In case you’ve missed the subtle jabs thus far, he hasn’t handled the task very well. The actors are struggling with the bad material, the CGI is awful, and the movie seems to be doing its best to blind the theater with INCREDIBLY BRIGHT LIGHTS at random intervals. His version of The Day The Earth Stood Still strips out everything good in the original and replaces it with a long, drawn-out chase across several states that, somehow, never actually feels in any way exciting or tense.

I wouldn’t even describe the film as workmanlike, because that implies that the film was crafted in some way, rather than hot-glued together out of bits and pieces. There’s no consistency of tone or performance, as the movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a science fiction piece, The Fugitive, or a natural disaster film. It manages to be none of these things.

A few days prior to the release of the movie, Den of Geek’s Martin and I had an email exchange where we discussed this film and what we thought it would be. I make it a point do my best to avoid spoilers wherever possible. That said, Martin felt that it was going to have some badly-handled allusion to terrorism, and I said that it was going to have some badly-handled environmentalism theme. As it turns out, we were both right. Rather than making some poignant statement about nuclear gamesmanship (or make any poignant statement about anything), TDTESS instead decides to smash us over the head with a cudgel that reads “Stop polluting the Earth” while also hitting us in the stomach with a pipe labeled “War is bad.”

Gee, thank you, movie. I really hadn’t learned that lesson from 30 years of Vietnam movies and WALL-E. There’s nothing quite like making an environmentalist film and filling it with constant driving by vehicles that get the worst gas mileage in car history. You really needed to chase an SUV with 8 Hummers to tell me that I’m a bad person for driving my 17-year-old Buick into work.

The Day The Earth Stood Still review (2)

US correspondent Ron Hogan is not a fan of Keanu Reeves. He likes his actors to have more than one facial expression. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.



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1 out of 5

(Video) The Day The Earth Stood Still reviewed by Mark Kermode



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The Day The Earth Stood Still review (3)

Written by

Ron Hogan

Ron Hogan is a freelance writer from Louisville, Kentucky who got an English degree from a college no one has ever heard of. After dropping out…

Read more from Ron Hogan



What was the point of The Day the Earth Stood Still? ›

Directed by Scott Derrickson from a screenplay by David Scarpa, it stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien sent to try and change human behavior in an effort to save Earth from environmental degradation; this version replaces the Cold War-era theme of nuclear warfare with the contemporary issue of negative human impact ...

Did Klaatu survive? ›

Betrayed by Mrs. Benson's suitor, he is fatally shot by the U.S. Army; whereupon Mrs. Benson, at his behest, delivers the message "Klaatu barada nikto!" barely in time to save her own life. Gort retrieves Klaatu's body, and revives him from death.

Is The Day the Earth Stood Still for kids? ›

The MPAA rated The Day The Earth Stood Still PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence.

Is The Day the Earth Stood Still a horror movie? ›

The consensus states, "Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism." Tony Magistrale describes the film as one of the best examples of early techno-horror.

What would happen if the Earth stopped rotating? ›

At the Equator, the earth's rotational motion is at its fastest, about a thousand miles an hour. If that motion suddenly stopped, the momentum would send things flying eastward. Moving rocks and oceans would trigger earthquakes and tsunamis. The still-moving atmosphere would scour landscapes.

What was Gort made of? ›

Gort is an eight-foot tall, seamless robot apparently constructed from a single piece of "flexible metal".

What did Klaatu barada nikto mean? ›

In accepting the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1998, Director Robert Wise closed his remarks by saying, "... I'd like to say 'Klaatu barada nikto', which, roughly translated tonight, means 'Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. '"

Was Klaatu from Mars? ›

According to the cinematic wisdom of Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, Klaatu “is a super emissary, sent from one of the planets to counsel peace” who hands out “lukewarm philosophies,” an amusing trait for “a man from Mars,” while John McCarten of the New Yorker says that Klaatu resembles “a kind of high-class ...

How do you explain Earth Day to a child? ›

How To Explain Earth Day To Your Kids & Nurture Your Little Environmentalists
  1. Start With The Basics. ...
  2. Take Them To An Event. ...
  3. Teach Them By Doing. ...
  4. Discuss The Year's Theme. ...
  5. Make A Plan To Help. ...
  6. Get Them Outside. ...
  7. Plant A Tree Or Flowers. ...
  8. Make A Bird Feeder.
Apr 19, 2016

Why is it important to teach kids about Earth Day? ›

But this annual event is much more than a celebration – it's an important day to raise awareness about looking after the environment. If we want to keep our planet clean and safe for years to come, we need to reduce the amount of pollution we produce and fight against climate change.

What can you teach children on Earth Day? ›

Earth Day activities for the classroom
  • Connect with nature. ...
  • Organize an Earth Day scavenger hunt. ...
  • Hang birdseed ornaments. ...
  • Build an insect hotel. ...
  • Grow a love for plants with seed jars. ...
  • Build a cardboard tube bird feeder. ...
  • Clean up a science experiment. ...
  • Teach students to recycle.
Apr 7, 2021

How far did Klaatu travel? ›

Incorrectly regarded as goofs

Just after Klaatu is shot and is in the hospital, he is visited by a government official. Klaatu states he has traveled "Five of your Earth months" and "250 million of your Earth miles".

Is The Man Who Fell to Earth based on a true story? ›

The Man Who Fell to Earth is the compelling true life story of a World War II airman, his harrowing fall from a B-17 as it broke apart over the North Sea, and the life he lived in the years that followed.

How scary is in the Earth movie? ›

Parents need to know that In the Earth is a sci-fi/horror movie that was shot during the COVID-19 pandemic and uses a global pandemic as part of its story. The movie is strange, unsettling, and vague but interesting, though it's also quite gory.

What happens if the moon is gone? ›

It is the pull of the Moon's gravity on the Earth that holds our planet in place. Without the Moon stabilising our tilt, it is possible that the Earth's tilt could vary wildly. It would move from no tilt (which means no seasons) to a large tilt (which means extreme weather and even ice ages).

Why can't we feel the Earth spinning? ›

Since the Earth rotates at a near-constant speed (that is, it doesn't speed up or slow down in any way noticeable to us), we simply spin with it and don't feel a thing.

How long can Earth last? ›

At the current rate of solar brightening—just over 1% every 100 million years—Earth would suffer this "runaway greenhouse" in 600 million to 700 million years.

What did the woman say to Gort? ›

If he dies, she is to tell Gort the words “klaatu barada nikto”. She manages to use this message to stop Gort's eminent rampage, and Gort takes her aboard the spaceship.

Is Gort a villain? ›

Type of Villain

Gort is an alien robot that appears as the main antagonist in the 1951 science-fiction thriller film The Day The Earth Stood Still and its 2008 remake, where he remained unnamed and the original name was turned into the acronym G.O.R.T.

How was TARS made? ›

Tar is a dark brown or black viscous liquid of hydrocarbons and free carbon, obtained from a wide variety of organic materials through destructive distillation. Tar can be produced from coal, wood, petroleum, or peat.

What did Klaatu enjoy most about working with Jabba? ›

He often repaired the crime lord's skiffs. Klaatu also took enjoyment in Jabba's executions by rancor in Jabba's Palace.

What planet is 250 million miles away? ›

Mars is less than 56 million km (35 million miles) from Earth at its closest approach, but it recedes to almost 400 million km (250 million miles) when the two planets are on opposite sides of the solar system.

What was the first robot that landed on Mars? ›

Mars Pathfinder was launched December 4, 1996 and landed on Mars' Ares Vallis on July 4, 1997. It was designed as a technology demonstration of a new way to deliver an instrumented lander and the first-ever robotic rover to the surface of the red planet.

Who was the first person to land in Mars? ›

There have also been studies for a possible human mission to Mars, including a landing, but none have been attempted. Soviet Union's Mars 3, which landed in 1971, was the first successful Mars landing. As of May 2021, the Soviet Union, United States, and China have conducted Mars landings successfully.

Why is Colonel pronounced Cournel? ›

Why is the word “colonel” pronounced with an “r” sound when it is not spelled with an “r”? “Colonel” came to English from the mid-16th-century French word coronelle, meaning commander of a regiment, or column, of soldiers. By the mid-17th century, the spelling and French pronunciation had changed to colonnel.

What are 5 facts about Earth Day? ›

10 Earth Day facts that might surprise you
  • The date was chosen to appeal to college students. ...
  • Some countries call it "International Mother Earth Day." ...
  • Earth Day has a theme song. ...
  • Earth day went global in 1990. ...
  • Earth Day has inspired countries to start environmentally beneficial initiatives.
Feb 24, 2022

What are 3 interesting facts about Earth Day? ›

Here are 10 Earth Day facts and statistics to share with your little one.
  • Senator Gaylord Nelson conceived Earth Day in the early 1960s. ...
  • The first Earth Day was in 1970. ...
  • The government responded to Earth Day with environmental legislation. ...
  • Earth Day went global in 1990.
Mar 31, 2022

What are the 5 issues that Earth Day focuses on preserving the environment? ›

While Earth Day is concerned with environmental preservation in general, it focuses specifically on the following issues:
  • Climate change.
  • Pollution.
  • Deforestation.
  • Water scarcity.
  • Loss of biodiversity.
  • Soil erosion and degradation.

What does Earth Day teach us? ›

The day was created to raise awareness of environmental issues and to encourage people to take action. The main aim of Earth Day is to improve and restore the environments we live in and to make changes to reduce the amount of damage in the future.

What is the main theme of Earth Day? ›

The Earth Day 2022 Theme is Invest In Our Planet.

Why is Earth Day important today? ›

It draws attention to the environment and promotes conservation and sustainability. Each year on 22 April, around 1 billion individuals across more than 190 countries take action to raise awareness of the climate crisis and bring about behavioural change to protect the environment.

What are 5 things you can do for Earth Day? ›

Here are a few things you can do to do your part for saving the planet on Earth Day.
  • Go on a beach clean. ...
  • Plant a tree. ...
  • Buy a bag for life. ...
  • Don't eat any meat. ...
  • Go microbead-free. ...
  • Walk or ride a bike. ...
  • Give up chewing gum. ...
  • Shop at a local farmers market.
Apr 18, 2018

Why do we celebrate Earth Day in simple words? ›

Earth Day is an annual celebration that honors the achievements of the environmental movement and raises awareness of the need to protect Earth's natural resources for future generations.

What was the math problem in The Day the Earth Stood Still? ›

The equations seen on Professor Barnhardt's blackboard are authentic physics, and describe a particular form of the famous "three-body problem" in Newtonian gravitation, a problem which has no general closed-form solution.

How fast was the ship traveling in The Day the Earth Stood Still? ›

It is moving at 30,000 kilometers per second, fast enough that its impact would destroy all life on Earth.

Is The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951 public domain? ›

This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1928 and 1963, and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

How long does it take sunlight to reach the Earth? ›

The Sun is 93 million miles away, so sunlight takes 8 and 1/3 minutes to get to us. Not much changes about the Sun in so short a time, but it still means that when you look at the Sun, you see it as it was 8 minutes ago.

What planet is The Man Who Fell to Earth from? ›

Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth seeking to construct a spaceship to ferry others from his home planet, Anthea, to Earth. Anthea is experiencing a terrible drought after many nuclear wars, and the population has dwindled to fewer than 300.

How much time passes in The Man Who Fell to Earth? ›

At the end of the film, it is implied that 20 to 30 years have passed, yet the fashion, technology, and general appearance of the world is still clearly in the mid 1970s.

What is the absolute scariest movie ever? ›

1. The Exorcist (1973)

What is scientifically the scariest movie of all time? ›

“In 2021, our study ranked Rob Savage's low budget, Zoom-based horror, 'Host' (2020), as the scariest movie of all time, narrowly edging our previous winner, Scott Derrickson's 'Sinister' (2012) as the most scientifically scare movie ever made, but would a newcomer be able to take its crown in 2022?” reads the study.

What is the scariest movie that ever existed? ›

The Scariest Horror Movies of All Time
  • of 74. Barbarian. ...
  • of 74. Saint Maud. ...
  • of 74. Shrew's Nest. ...
  • of 74. Sissy. ...
  • of 74. Smile. ...
  • of 74. Speak No Evil. ...
  • of 74. The Call. ...
  • of 74. The Wailing.
Jan 6, 2023


1. Everything you need to know about The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
2. Computing Forever Reviews: The Day The Earth Stood Still
(The Dave Cullen Show)
3. The Day the Earth Stood Still - Bum Reviews
(Channel Awesome)
4. The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) Movie Review & Rant! (Keanu-thon)
5. Sci-Fi Classic Review: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)
(The Unapologetic Geek)
6. Discussing The Day the Earth Stood Still
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