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Day the Earth Stood Still, The (2008) Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2009
ImageIn 1951, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" made a huge impression on filmgoers.  It has been immortalized in cinematic history.  So, it is only natural that Hollywood feel the need to remake the film with lots of flashy visual effects.  Unfortunately, Hollywood should have left the classic alone.  But of course not.  Even when films like this get the blockbuster treatment, they always rake in the money at the box office.  That certainly is not the case here.  "The Day the Earth Stood Still" came up just shy of the film's creation budget.  That's saying a lot for a blockbuster.  In one weekend, "Fast & Furious" has raked in nearly more than "The Day the Earth Stood Still" did in its entire run.

The film fails on nearly every level.  The plot is poorly constructed, the acting is below average and the screenplay is annoying.  The visual effects are mysterious, never revealing a whole lot of information.  Not to mention, the film derails from the original in so many ways that I am not going to even get into here.  Take my word for it.

This new version of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly.  Reeves would not have been my first choice to play the immortal Klaatu, but then again, his same old demeanor is right what the filmmakers were looking for.  The aliens arrived on Earth in 1928 to take a sample of human DNA so that they could send in spies to keep an eye on the planet.

In the present day, the aliens, who travel in an orb, return, in a very public way.  They have come to interject in the humans' destruction of the Earth.  After their lead spy, Mr. Wu informs Klaatu that the human race is hopeless, motions are set in place that herald the destruction of the human race.

The whole reason for the aliens' interjection is that the Earth is one of the few precious planets that can support complex life and they cannot allow the humans to destroy it.  Meanwhile, Dr. Helen Benson (Connelly) acts as Klaatu's chauffer.  Anywhere he needs to go, Benson will take him.  Along the way, she begins to realize that Klaatu does mean the human race harm.  There is a full armed manhunt out for Klaatu, Benson and her stepson.

Of course, as is the humans' answer to everything, Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates) orders a complete military assault.  Who cares what these beings want, just annihilate them.  That's the answer.  I am so sick of humans that are full of themselves.  We aren't the only species out there.  Let's get over the god complex already. The few good human beings in the story try to convince Klaatu that humans have another side.  A side that is loving and compassionate.  Klaatu finally sees the goodwill in "some" humans and agrees to help them stop the destruction of the human race.  As a giant swarm of complex-structure eating locusts fly through the United States, Klaatu tries to get back to the central orb in Central Park before it is too late.  A being such as he is not going to sacrifice himself for the sake of the human race.  But of course he does.

I must say that the film drug on and on.  The first 20 minutes are semi interesting, but then it is just a long way to a predictable ending.  And one other thing, Benson's stepson, Jacob is probably the biggest pain the a** I have ever seen on screen.  All he can talk about is the destruction of aliens by violence.  It is kill, kill, kill for that kid and it is sickening.  That is inherently what is wrong with the human race.  Everything is about violence.  The kid disrespects everyone around him and then when he is in danger from the very weapons that he longs to use on the world, he turns into a whiny little boy that wants the alien to help him.  Give me a break.

The video quality is near reference material.  My only grip is that the black levels fluctuate a bit too much.  The deepness of the black levels is high, but shadow delineation then suffers.  There is a nice balance between contrast and brightness.  The colors are drained, but such is the intention of the filmmakers.  There is no compression or motion artifacting and the printmaster is perfectly clean.  There is no edge enhancement or digital noise reduction.  Details are impressive, but limited to the extent of details originally built into the visual effects sequences.  There are some soft sequences to disguise the CGI elements.  Keanu Reeves is clearly standing in front of a green screen in many of the sequences, which is a bit cheesy.  Overall, this is an excellent presentation, but can't make up for the horridness of the film.

The audio is on the same level as the video transfer.  The DTS-HD audio track has a nice low frequency extension.  However, the LFE channel overshadows much of the audio track in many sequences.  The dynamic range is decent as is the frequency response.  The LFE bass eats up a lot of the bandwidth.  The surround channels are filled with ambience and sound design elements.  However, there is hardly ever the presence of discreet sound effects in the rears.  The dialogue is crisp and clean.  It is always audible, even with the most involved sequences.  The music score is noticeable but hardly memorable.  Overall, this is a great audio presentation, but ultimately forgettable.

The best part of the entire package is the special features bundle.  The Blu-ray comes in a 3-disc package.  The first Blu-ray disc contains the feature film and the supplemental materials.  First, there is an audio commentary screenwriter David Scarpa.  There is a lot of interesting material in this commentary.  There is a Picture-in-Picture track, "Klaatu's Unseen Artifacts."  Using the green and yellow buttons during the film's playback will display conceptual art, production photos, storyboards and other footage.  "Build Your Own Gort" is an interactive feature that is fairly lame, allowing you to build your own oversized robot.  "Re-Imagining the Day" takes a look at the legacy of the original film.  "Unleashing Gort" looks at the creation of the robot.  "Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life" examines the technology used in humans' search for life beyond Earth.  "The Day the Earth was 'Green'" is an environmental PSA.  Lastly there are three deleted scenes and a D-Box enhancement.

The second disc is also a Blu-ray disc.  This one takes the cake.  It contains the original 1951 "The Day the Earth Stood Still" classic.  If there is something that you find interesting about the remake, but really prefer the original, then this is the package for you as you get both movies for the price of one.  The third disc in the set contains a Digital Copy of the 2008 version of the film.

The remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a dud.  There is nothing about the film that makes it worth it.  The audio and video quality is amazing, but not enough to make you want to watch this film.  However, the inclusion of the original 1951 classic is a nice touch.  To each his own with this film, but I would stick with the original.

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