Keanu Reeves portrays Klaatu, an otherwordly being, whose arrival on Earth triggers an unstoppable series of events that threaten all of mankind. In an desperate attempt to save humanity, governments and scientists race to unravel the mystery behind the visitor's appearance. When a woman and her young stepson find themselves embroiled in the alien's plan, they become the world's only hope to stave off apocalyptic annihilation.
If the Earth dies, you die. If the human race dies, the Earth survives - Klaatu
If you are expecting gigantic robots battling the humans or aliens blowing up the White House or the Eiffel tower then my advice to you is avoid "The Day the Earth Stood Still". This Scott Derrickson’s (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) remake of the highly-regard sci-fi classic of all time is a little too thought-provoking and dull for the average audience which explains the low attendance rate when it was released theatrically last year.
Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien disguised in human form together with his gigantic counterpart, Gort lands in central Manhattan in their spherical-like spaceship. A group of scientists are summoned by the U.S. government to investigate including an astrobiologist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connolly). Helen believes Earth can be saved from Armageddon so long Klaatu is convinced that mankind can reverse the environmental damage it has inflicted on planet Earth over the years but the United States Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) believes otherwise.
Without any lengthy explanation or in-your-face information detailing Klaatu’s motives in the beginning, TDTESS can be a bit dry to follow and the rebellious Jacob, Helen’s stepson (played by Will Smith’s offspring, Jaden Smith) adds on to the frustration of this sci-fi drama. Along the way we knew of Klaatu’s amazing way of self-healing, he even interviews a certain Mr Wu, a fellow alien who has been assigned to live with humans over a period of 70 years in halting Mandarin and his struggle to proceed with mankind extermination or to give us one more chance to get things right. Think of him as an auditor for our planet earth. The message of 'going green' is obvious here. But Derrickson and screenwriter David Scarpa’s handling of the material can be preachy and talky to some.
Reeves who has been a constant joke with many people over his deadpan performances throughout his acting career is the perfect actor for the role of Klaatu. Keeping a straight-faced throughout the movie truly helps in conveying the alien messenger in human form. No surprises from Connolly as she basically reprises her previous intellectual role in Ang Lee’s "Hulk". However, the evergreen Kathy Bates and John Cleese do contribute lifting performances.
Frankly the visual effects by Weta Digital weren’t that impressive given that the company rendered marvellous effects for King Kong and the Lord of the Rings trilogy though you still get some kicks watching Gort releasing insect-like nanites destroying the armies and everything in their path.
While obviously won’t be classify as a sci-fi classic, the contemporary issue of environmental concern is absolute relevant in today’s context. The haphazard wrapping up of the movie might stir a bit of discomfort but coming out from Fox whose production credits in recent times has been nothing but downfalls, TDTESS is still a recommended choice for those who preferred something more brainy. Fans of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich, do take a step back.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Commentary by Screenwriter David Scarpa – Director Scott Derrickson and leading man Keanu Reeves are apparently missing here so Screenwriter David Scarpa goes solo sharing interesting tidbits comparing the revamped and classic TDTESS. Beware of dry spots as well.
Re-Imagining the Day - The cast and crew talks about remaking the 1951 classic of the same name in this 30 minutes featurette.
Unleashing GORT – This segment touches on the laborious task of redesigning Gort.
Deleted Scenes – It’s obvious why these 3 scenes are left on the cutting floor. Check them out if you got time to spare, if not just skip it.
Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life – Experts talk about alien life as well as current development of the subject. Especially for diehard sci-fi fans.
The Day the Earth Was "Green" – Fox, the company behind TDTESS decides to go 'green' and strives to become a carbon neutral company by 2011. This feature brings you behind-the-scenes as to what are the various implementations the crew went through for example using hybrid cars, less reliance on papers, reusing some of the props etc.
A Still Galaries round up the extras
According to IMDB, the film was primarily filmed in tones of green and blue, Earth's natural colours. The visual transfer truly did justice to it, details are vivid and popping. With the Dolby Digital 5.1, dialogue is clear and impressive sound effects come from all angles during the action sequences even though there isn’t a lot to speak of.
by Linus Tee