A Review of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”

CAPTION:  Keanu Reeves wonders if he stares at this sphere long enough, will this movie disappear?

The Day the Audience Shrugged Their Shoulders, 14 December 2008


Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a stunningly inept remake of the 1950’s classic of the same name. It’s one of those big-budget films so unfathomably dull and inane, you wonder how it ever got made. Whereas the original warned of the dangers of nuclear armament, this modern update boldly chides us for being mean to each other and not taking care of the environment. Gee, Hollywood, thanks for the swell insight! This Christmas season Hollywood teaches us that people can sometimes suck, but only that special kind of film can suck totally.

Although the entire production is horrible from top to bottom, the inert direction of Scott Derrickson and the randomly asinine script from David Scarpa bear most of the blame. The screenplay clearly went through arbitrary rewrites, perhaps after being focus-grouped to death, and shows not a single breath of imagination. Around every turn, it wastes opportunities and insults the intelligence of the audience and gives us not one authentic character or moment to connect to. Even when it thinks it’s being cool (like the lame reveal that those alien spheres are actually “arks” trying to save animal life before the world is annihilated) the script fails miserably. One sphere that is shown on the back of a pick-up truck being attacked by flame-throwers in some foreign desert town inexplicably contains squid, because, well, the shadows of squid inside a giant sphere look kinda neat, that’s why! At least the script teaches us one thing. Apparently all you need to do in order to survive an apocalyptic robotic alien insect attack that devours everything in sight is to hide under a bridge in Central Park!

The saddest part of the film is how the director wastes his talented cast. The always wooden Keanu Reeves was perfectly chosen to play the alien Klaatu, but even he seems to be disbelieving the words that are coming out of his mouth. Poor Jennifer Connelly, an immensely emotive and alluring actress, appears to be in physical pain or constipated for most the film, obviously stunned she agreed to star in this junk. Kathy Bates and John Cleese apparently showed up only for their paychecks and sleepwalk through their lines, and at one pivotal moment where Bates’ Secretary of State attempts to show regret for some bad decisions made, she actually appears to fall asleep in her chair. And then there’s poor little Jaden Smith, who appears bored to tears throughout the film and is given no direction from Derrickson except when he is asked to cry on cue in the supposed emotional climax of the picture that left me feeling sorry for all involved.

However, if anyone should be hung for this travesty, it’s the producers, who must’ve run out of money at some point and filled the gap in funds with some nauseating product placement. How else do we explain Klaatu’s trip to McDonald’s for an important meeting with another of his kind?

The Day the Earth Stood Still is easily the worst film of the year. At least The Happening had its accidentally humorous moments. This clunker offers no such relief. Even the special effects are done in a lazy and unimaginative manner. It’s so awful, I was stunned into stillness while the rest of the audience seemed to shrug their shoulders.

Originally Posted on the Internet Movie Database:



  1. Well that is one movie I am not going out to see. But I will wait for the DVD, have to see for myself how bad it was.

    Ana, it’s not even worth a DVD rental. Wait until it is on cable, and even then, only if you are bored out of your mind and want to watch something you can make fun of. –DHS

  2. The rating is no surprise, but I’m a little surprised that you agreed to give it a fair shot. Even the trailers looked atrocious. And Keanu Reeves! About as much acting talent as….well, as Nicholas Coppola Cage. Sontag would’ve wept at the mere idea of making this film.

    Death to the classic remake!

    Erin, I was drawn into the movie theater by the presence of Jennifer Connelly (I could watch her eat toast for two hours and that would be fine by me) and by the fact that I didn’t pay for my ticket. –DHS

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