The Day The Earth Stood Still (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

This is something of a mixed bag – the performances and production design are superb, but as soon as it deviates from the original, it collapses into a disappointing, badly conceived mess.

What's it all about?
This remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic by Robert Wise stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien who comes to earth to warn the planet's leaders about an impending global crisis. However, the government's response is to shoot on sight, injuring Klaatu and triggering the destructive impulses of his giant robot protector.

While being interrogated by the Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates), Klaatu bonds with sensitive doctor Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), who eventually helps him to escape. Accompanied by her estranged stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith), Helen has to stay one step ahead of the authorities, while attempting to convince Klaatu that mankind is worth saving.

The Good
Reeves is perfectly cast as Klaatu, brilliantly underplaying it rather than going down the Kevin Spacey in K-PAX route – as a result, he's genuinely chilling in places, especially during the interrogation scenes. Connelly is as excellent as always and there's strong support from Bates, while Smith does a good job of making Jacob both sympathetic and obnoxious at the same time.

In addition, the production design is extremely impressive – the first glimpse of the robot is thrilling and the sequence involving Klaatu's birth is both creepy and intriguing.

The Bad
However, in deviating from the plot of the 1951 film, director Scott Derrickson has lost sight of all the elements that made the original a classic in the first place, the biggest casualty of which is the much-loved line "Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!" It would spoil too much to go into detail but suffice it to say that the film collapses under the weight of dodgy CGI and a badly written, poorly conceived final act.

Worth seeing?
The Day The Earth Stood Still is very much a film of two halves – the first 40 minutes are genuinely thrilling, but it goes completely off the rails in the final act and the result is a disappointing mess. Buy the original instead.

Film Trailer

The Day The Earth Stood Still (12A)
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Content updated: 21/04/2019 23:09

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