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I love flipping by the HD Monster Channel when they are showing all the great 50’s and 60’s sci-fi thrillers. Movies created when the average American knew we would be easily attacked by aliens or nuclear missiles before the 70’s ever got here. How the future was full of space travel and the horrors that came from what we would discover on other planets. It is humorous now in 2008 to see how the movie makers of that day perceived us to live and function. But one thing has remained unchanged and that is human nature. The thing that makes us fear that which we do not understand; to want to destroy before being destroyed.

In the remake of the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still director Scott Derrickson has made this classic tale relevant while still paying homage to the original. With modern day scenarios he mixes the campy dialogue that you would expect from 50’s sci-fi. Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) and his big buddy GORT have come to Earth on behalf of civilizations elsewhere to talk to our leader about their plans for our planet. When he discovers that which he feared to be true there is no other option than to destroy the human race. It is up to a scientist (Jennifer Connelly) and her bratty step son (Jaden Smith) to convince him otherwise, before it is too late.

As hokey as this film is at times it is easily enjoyable if you allow yourself to be entertained. The opening scenes are reminiscent of Independence Day as the Earth is under attack from who knows where and for who knows what reason. All nations are looking to America to see what should be done. And our answer is as it always is when we discover something we don’t fully understand. Blow it up! The arrogance of our leaders is always a bit embarrassing in these films. The pompousness of anyone to think that they have the right to rule anything on the scale of a planet is just silly. The conversations between Klaatu and the Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates) show that in the large scheme of things like galaxies and universes we are such miniscule beings. We have created nothing yet we feel we have the right to use it as our own, however we see fit. And when faced with the guilt of how we have handled these creations we would rather fight than change.

You can call this a tree hugger film if you want but I think the script brings up some good points about how we are taking care of our home planet. Klaatu’s solution seems justified in an alien’s point of view, “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives.” If that is the only way to save something as grand as a planet, well it seems like a no brainer to wipe out an entire human race. We had our shot and blew it. The movie speaks a lot about change and will people ever change even in the face of alien destruction. Sadly as I watched this film I knew that we wouldn’t. Once the danger was over we would go right back to the selfish, proud, arrogant humans we were before it started. But that is the beauty of movies. In movies we can write the script however we want.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence and totally safe for your younger teens. Critics are going to bash it for its silly dialogue and campy scenarios and yes they are there. There are moments you want to groan in frustration, but if you can deal with those I think you will find it a fun film to see and experience. Enjoy it with the same outlook you do with the classics. It’s aliens for heaven sake. You are going to have serious moments that are laughable because they are meant to be serious. And I will even admit that Reeves wasn’t nearly as annoying as I thought he would be. He had little to say and what he did say needed to be delivered with absolutely no sign of emotion. Keanu, you found your calling. I give this remake 3.4 out of 5. See it on the big screen and have fun with it. It is what movies are sometimes meant to be.

Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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