"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008 Movie)

2 Kernels

All right, I’ll fess up.  I was born in 1950.  The earth stood still in 1951.  As a child, I often watched the reruns of this movie on TV, which scared the bejeebers out of me.  Burned into my psyche are the words we must utter, should Gort return to earth.

KLAATU BARADA NIKTO! 

The classic sentence of instruction spoken by Patricia Neal have gone down in history.  It’s almost as classic as Rhett Butler telling Charlotte, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”  (By the way, which brings me to another bone to pick. I can’t believe how many young people have never seen Gone With the Wind).

Fast forward to 2008 and the Hollywood remake of The Day the Earth Stood still.  If you are going to try and remake a film, don’t destroy the original story.  As much as I like Keanu Reeves, it was a train wreck of a movie that could have been so much better with today’s nifty technology.

When producers remake movies and tinker with the classic storyline, it’s a sure sign that nothing good can come of it.  Let’s face it. Fans do not like to be tinkered.  The Tomatometer is 94% for the 1951 film, compared to a paltry 21% for the 2008 version.

Gort 1951 (He’s clothed!)
Perhaps those who have never seen the 1951 version thought the 2008 version was okay.  The spaceship lands (a globe rather than a saucer), Gort and the alien emerges. Gort is basically the same (except his privates aren’t covered), but the alien is not in human form.  After shooting the poor thing, they discover it’s encased in some kind of gooey bio suit, which eventually turns his alien body into a human body.  Weird.

The modern day Helen Benson is played by Jennifer Connelly, who once again finds sympathy for the strange visitor and ends up driving him all over the town and into the woods at his every command. It’s obvious, the alien in this movie isn’t too keen on kids either.

Gort 2008 (He’s naked!)
The premise of the 2008 version is based on our environmental destruction of the planet. Mankind has been a bad caretaker of our resources, so the plan from other life forms in the universe is to destroy mankind before it destroys the earth.  Let’s face it, there isn’t enough habitable planets to go around!  The terra firma and oceans are more important than the human life our orb sustains.

Compared the the cold-war mentality of the 1951 version, mankind can’t get along with one another.  War after war has told the other races of the universe that humans are barbaric in nature and a threat to the empire’s peace. (Well, you get what I mean.) We have not evolved.  Therefore, we need to shape up, or Gort-like beings will wipe us out and turn our blue ball into one of cinder.  In other words, we will be eliminated and not assimilated.  Even the Borg won’t save us.

The new version touches here and there on the old, but the message of why the visit is altered into a modern-day tale of our environmental woes, rather than our human woes.  Last I looked, the wars and our barbaric condition haven’t changed much since we dropped the bomb in WW2.  It’s a different kind of cold war now, but the message received with the new version weakens the premise of the movie, along with the other changes.

Reeves’ portrayal of Klaatu gave me the impression that the alien was an emotionless being intent on pursuing his mission. Even another alien from his species, who has been living among us (gasp), has learned to love humans; but Klaatu just doesn’t get it.  Michael Rennie’s Klaatu from 1951 film exhibited more emotion and understanding, than hardheartedness toward our human condition.

So, does the 2008 version deserve any accolades?  Well, had the technology of today been used to spiffy up the 1951 version, it would have rocked.  If the story would have continued to the original storyline, it would have skyrocketed to better reviews.  I’m here to say that the 2008 version will dissolve into oblivion, because it has been devoured by tiny bugs of retribution for not staying true to the original.   Hollywood, you didn’t listen the day the earth stood still!

KLAATU BARADA NIKTO!
The failsafe words that halts Gort from doing us all in.

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