New on DVD: The Day the Earth Stood Still


This is an update of a 1951 film of the same name that maintains a very similar message.

A swarm of government agents show up at Helen's (Jennifer Connelly) door and "request" she go with them, leaving her to scramble for someone to look after her stepson (Jaden Smith). She and a group of other scientists are taken to a secure location and briefed about a space object on a crash course for Earth set to hit in just over an hour. But instead of a devastating collision, the glowing orb lands slowly in a park. A being emerges and it eventually takes human form – his name is Klaatu (Keanu Reeves). He is joined by a giant robot named Gort that responds to violence. Klaatu has a very important message for world leaders but fear and a need for control hinder his mission.

In the earlier version, Klaatu came to Earth to warn people their path of destruction will lead to extermination by the rest of the universe. This time around we've already done too much damage and Klaatu is here to set the universe's solution into motion. And as a race, humans do little to prove we deserve better. The final message is that faced with our own destruction, we can change – but hasn't that happened repeatedly to no avail – the Cold War and global warming come to mind.

Many may think an emotionless alien is the perfect role for Reeves and they'd be right. He does very well. His coldness is countered by the emotional performance by Connelly. Her pleas on behalf of humanity are heartfelt, however empty her promises.

The filmmakers' take is a modernization of the original tale that works quite well. The CGl is not overwhelming, but rather appropriate to and supportive of the story. The orbs are very attractive.

The two-disc DVD special features are varied and interesting; except for the less than two minutes of deleted scenes, which are pointless. “Re-imagining The Day” featurette is a look at how the filmmakers approached the remake of such an iconic sci-fi picture; while “Unleashing Gort” looks at the variations Gort went through before production. “Watching the Skies” is a bit more of a documentary about UFO sightings and the “Green” featurette is about how everyone pitched in to make the production environmentally friendly. The commentary by writer David Scarpa is very sparse. The still galleries include concept art, storyboards and production photos – all of which are quite appealing.

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