Movie Review

The Day the Earth Stood Still a.k.a. “D.T.E.S.S.”, “O Dia em que a Terra Parou,” “Le Jour où la terre s’arrêta,” “Päivä jona maailma pysähtyi,” “Ultimatum alla terra”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Sci-Fi, Thriller, Drama, Remake
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
December 12, 2008 (wide—3,559 theaters, including 123 Imax screens)
DVD: April 7, 2009
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Death

Resurrection of the dead in the Bible

Final judgment

Environment

Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer

What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer

How might rain forest destruction affect our weather? Answer

Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

Questions and Answers about The Origin of Life Answer

Featuring: Keanu Reeves (Klaatu)
The Matrix,” “Speed,” “Constantine

Jennifer Connelly
Requiem for a Dream,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Blood Diamond

Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Leanne Adachi, Daniel Bacon, Sverrir Björgvinsson, Chris Bradford, Joshua Close, Sandy Colton, Aaron Craven, Roger R. Cross, Aaron Douglas, Alisen Down, Lorena Gale, Jon Hamm, James Hong, Serge Houde, Marci T. House, Brandon T. Jackson, Shaine Jones, Hiro Kanagawa, Kevan Kase, Jared Keeso, Mousa Kraish, J.C. MacKenzie, Tyler McClendon, Geoff Meed, Shaker Paleja, Sunita Prasad, Darien Provost, David Richmond-Peck, Juan Riedinger, Patrick Sabongui, Stefanie Samuels, George Sharperson, Jaden Smith, Craig Stanghetta, Richard Tillman, Andrew Wheeler
Director: Scott Derrickson
The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “Hellraiser: Inferno”
Producer: Earth Canada Productions, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, Paul Harris Boardman, Gregory Goodman, Erwin Stoff
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“12.12.08 is the Day the Earth Stood Still”

Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is a scientist and a widowed parent to a disrespectful stepson, Jacob (Jaden Smith). Her life quickly changes when the U.S. government shows up at her house, informing her that she is now in federal custody due to a national emergency. Dr. Benson soon finds out that an unidentified massive object from space will impact Earth within 78 minutes. A collision never happens, but instead an enormous glowing sphere lands in Central Park. While the military and other scientists are cautious and ready to attack, Dr. Benson bravely walks towards the sphere and reaches out her hand, almost touching one of the aliens. Before they can make physical contact, the alien is shot.

The alien is then rushed to a top-secret location where his wounded is tended. Once regaining consciousness, he shares that his name is Klaatu (Keanu Reeves). He wishes to speak to the world leaders about saving the Earth, but is denied Believing him to be no threat, Dr. Benson helps him escape. Later on, it is discovered that Klaatu is indeed on a mission to save Earth. However, Klaatu tells Dr. Benson that humans are killing the Earth. In order to save the planet, all humans will be destroyed. Racing against time, Dr. Benson tries to convince Klaatu that humans can change for the better if given the chance.

The movie starts out strongly. The audience is almost immediately captured into the action when Dr. Benson is taken into federal custody. With these events, an action-packed sci-fi is hinted at. When we meet Klaatu, he’s intriguing, and some suspense is created in trying to discover his true purpose. However, the movie soon loses momentum after Klaatu’s escape when Dr. Benson suddenly becomes a chauffer, and the woods become the new setting. Jacob’s disrespectful attitude also becomes a nuisance since he does not change until the very end.

The cast is very talented. Jennifer Connelly and Keanu Reeves were the first choices for their appointed roles, and they do not disappoint. Connelly brings emotion and sincerity to her role, while Keanu Reeves was perfect to play the emotionless Klaatu with his famous stoic face. Even Jaden Smith carries his role strongly. I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows in his father’s, Will Smith’s, footsteps to become a full-time actor.

Offensive Content

The offense in the film is quite low, but they are still worth mentioning. Jacob Benson is very disrespectful to Helen. He’s constantly argumentative and disobedient toward his stepmother. I heard no curse words, but the Lord’s name is profaned two times. Impressively, there is also no sexual content. When Klaatu is morphing into a human, one can see that he is naked, but this is only shown from the side.

Violence is moderate throughout the movie. Since the military is involved, there are some gunfire and missile explosions. When he found it necessary, Klaatu does injure or kill some humans. He electrocutes one man; this scene was unexpected and caused me to jump a little. On more than one occasion, he causes a loud screeching noise until guards writhe in pain. He also causes two helicopters to explode and crash. He crushes one man between two cars. Although, he is shown later healing the man. When the aliens decide to destroy the world, small metallic bugs consume whatever is in sight. Unfortunately, one man is caught in the midst and is shown beginning to bleed through his nose as the bugs slowly kill him.

The movie also preaches some false teachings of which Christians need to be aware. In a moving scene, Jacob tearfully begs Klaatu to bring his father back to life. Klaatu then tells the young boy that in the universe no one truly dies, but transforms. This is in direct contrast with God’s Living Word which says that “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

Throughout the film, humans are merely viewed as pests who should be exterminated to save Earth. The planet is portrayed more valuable than a human life. The aliens give themselves a god-like status in determining to heal the Earth. In Genesis 1:28-30, God gave humans dominion over the planet and everything in it.

Of course, this is not to say that we should not take care of the Earth! Plants, animals, and even nature are God’s gifts to us to help sustain life. All of these gifts should be taken care of with Christ-like responsibility. For although God did give us dominion of this wonderful planet, we must remember that He still owns it. In Psalm 24:1, it reads:

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

While I did not find the film highly offensive, I do not believe it’s the best remake ever made or even excellently made. The theory of human extermination in lieu of Mother Earth certainly did not help me in wanting to see it again. If you truly want to see the movie, I recommend you wait for it to come out in DVD.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I went to see this movie AFTER reading all the not-so-favorable comments about it. Actually, I came out feeling the movie is “not as bad” as some comments judged it to be. But to each his own opinion and tastes I guess, and that’s fair.

In any case, while finding the film as “not-perfect” in many senses—I found it to be a quite intriguing and interesting film with a quite clever, and even ennobling premise at it’s base. One which gives rise to pondering on some important issues in today’s life and world, and how we human’s treat it. Let me explain, how I came to feel this: (my review contains SPOILERS so choose if you want to continue…)

First and foremost, lets keep it mind that this is a SCIENCE FICTION film. So it’s viewpoint and conclusions or statements about life, are, in accordance with the rules of the genre, based on science, and not religion. So I didn’t go to see the expecting any religious understanding or statement in it.

However, I was surprised to find in the film some uncharacteristic sensitivity, and intriguing reflections, about human responsibility for the situation on Earth (not only the concerning environment, but also how humans treat each other) in this movie.

While movies like “Aliens,” “Independence Day” and many other science-fiction movies, love to show human beings as moral, brave, noble and just characters—while the Aliens are showed as emotion-devoid, evil, immoral and well… even stupid, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (TDTESS, in short form) turns the table on that premise. Not only is the Alien, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves, who’s stoicness actually works positively for him, in portraying this specific role), more intelligent and powerful than most humans—he is a more moral figure, than most, as well. (SPOILERS AHEAD, read only if you choose to):

No longer is the Alien just “plain bad” and wanting our total annihilation for just “no apparent reason” like the “predators and Aliens” we’ve seen too much of in the recent years. This one, Klaatu, makes us—the humans—take a long hard look into the mirror. And you know what? When he implies that the “reflection” of us, humans, looking back from the mirror—is a quite unpleasant one—there are times, when at least some of us—unpleasant as it may be to do—will have to agree with that assessment.

From what I gathered, Klaatu’s initial mission is to warn the humans (not destroy them without considering other alternatives). No longer are they (Humans) irresponsible about what happens with themselves or their planet. Humans will have to step up and take responsibility. No more carelessness. No more “someone else’s problem.”

Fleeing from authorities, in a local restaurant, Klaatu holds a conversation with an Alien in human disguise who lived his entire life on Earth. The person/Alien tells Klaatu how “hard” and “unchanging” human beings are. Even if this may not be easy to hear (that lofty alien!! Who does he think he is?! ha, ha…), you have to agree that the Alien’s… eh… “accusations” are, sadly, based on human behavior—and there’s no way to dismiss that. Not only human behavior towards the environment…
You know what? Forget the environment. Could the Alien in disguise be talking about how horribly humans treat each other, around the world? News broadcasts show us how horrible humans treat each other across the globe. Everybody is “accustomed” to that, saying that that’s how things are, here in the world—and that’s how humans are, here in the world. Should we not change? Did Jesus not tell us to step up, take responsibility, care for others and change for the better? Did Jesus not warn us, that we’ve been given a chance, thru grace and God’s love, to change for the better—but a time will come, when there will be “no more excuses,” and we, humans, will have to give account on our behavior?

I liked the fact that Klaatu makes us take a long good look at ourselves. It is a healthy thing to do. It’s also uneasy to do. And it’s good that science fiction movies are at least trying (are they succeeding? that’s another question) to raise such awareness in the midst of special effects and explosions, common in these kind of films.

Reflecting on it, Klaatu shows good qualities all around (ignoring the fact that he, later, wants to… emmm… annihilate the entire planet… ha! ha!). He does not ever harm or injure anyone, unless he in threat from them first (self defense, in any court of law). He warns people and doesn’t lash out on them—and he steps up to “do the right thing” in the end, endangering his own life and mission.

So, yeah, this is not the most perfect of science fiction films. But it’s certainly not the worst (that particular title goes to Aliens and Predator movies). It is actually, in my opinion, one of the better ones of the lot. In any case, I guess, I just feel that after so many years that we’re “slurring” the Aliens’s reputation (ha! ha!)—the Aliens get to say to us, thru a stoic yet impressive Keanu Reeves: “Better take a good look at yourselves first.” That’s kind of a “new one” in these kind of movies. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents about the movie. I hope you enjoyed reading my comment. Thanks!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Solomon Sasson, age 33 (Israel)
Positive—The movie lacked in what could have been much better, had a little more effort been involved. The creators clearly expected to get horrified gasps from the audience at seeing Klaatu’s ship. Frankly, I expected more out of Reeves, and I was disappointed. Connelly isn’t usually a phenomenal actor, so I wasn’t surprised there. The earth-first references were there, but they weren’t sickening. Yes, it’s fairly obvious the alien regards our planet in more respect than we do. Yes, we’re all total failures, and in a supreme being’s eye, should be utterly destroyed for a greater purpose. So why the positive rating?

For the sci-fi genre, this really is one “small step” for the 21st century. I was stunned. There was no relativism. There was no nudity. In fact, one of the lead characters was previously MARRIED. Do we even see that word, except in writing anymore? (***SPOILER***: Ultimately, it is implied the lead character allows himself to die to give humanity a second chance. Sound familiar?) Replace the occasionally-hinted at “universe” with God, and you have a Christian movie. In that sense, even though production quality was poor, if the Christian community gives support for this movie, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more like it in the future.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—James, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I was so thrilled to find a movie that was clean enough for the entire family (12 and 13 year old children), that I really didn’t mind how predictable and preachy it was. The plot is typical Hollywood: aliens come to earth to destroy the people because they are wrecking the planet. To avert this annihilation, the characters must find a way to convince the aliens they are capable of changing their ways. The theme is, of course, objectionable to Christians. It is human life, not plant life, that is most precious to its Creator. We are sacred to God, who sent his Son to die for us, and entrusts His creation to us. But, it is true that we have been terrible stewards of all that we have been given. Most importantly, we have not treated one another with the love God requires, a fact that the makers of this movie seem to gloss over. To them, it’s the earth and all its other nonhuman life forms that matter most. But, if you can get past this worldly thinking (and really, it’s not reasonable to expect more of people who do not know the Lord), you’ll find this a pretty entertaining movie. Because of the intensity and subject matter, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 10 or so. For teens and preteens, it offers a great deal to discuss.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ashley, age 45 (USA)
Positive—I found the movie gave me food for thought. I know that it is only a movie and sci-fi, so don’t take to heart what is said, etc., but the way the alien was shown, to care about the planet itself, was/should be a wake up call to us. God put us here to look over the earth to take care of it and look what has happened to it.

It made me think of the flood, and what God did then because of the ways of man, how must he feel now looking at the earth. He cleansed the earth once and promised not to do it again, aren’t we so lucky to be forgiven and given second chances, just like in the movie at the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tracey, age 36 (Australia)
Neutral
Neutral***This may contain spoilers.***
I am amazed no one seemed to notice all the blatant portrayals of Klaatu as Christ. Here are a few:

He was “born” out of a blinding white light, escaped death at the hands of the ruling government, matured quickly, had vast wisdom and knowledge, and preformed “miracles.” He was shown walking on water for a brief instant, and, at one point, had bright red stigmata-like lasers coming out of his extended hands. He had a special relationship with a child, healed people’s wounds, brought a man who was dead back to life, and sacrificed his “perfect” self out of love for violent and “imperfect” people.

This is clearly another role designed to imprint this messianic image upon the person of Keanu Reeves. Reeves is now very familiar with this Christ-figure role, thanks to his appearances in the “Matrix” Trilogy, and “Constantine.” This is a blatant form of mind-altering programming for the masses, and I am amazed at the lack of recognition this has received. This subliminal imagery is also accompanied by a staggering number of product placements. It would take another large paragraph just to list the all the advertisements that I noticed in one viewing of this film. Be aware, this is being used now in all forms of mainstream media.

I say the following out of love: Please wake up!!! We’ve been programmed so much for so long we seem not to notice these things, but they are obvious. Not only are they are overtly conditioning our minds to accept the idea of a new messiah, but also to accept the idea of a global threat from outer space, and they do this all while trying to sell us a new LG phone or some McDonald’s coffee!!!

The New World Order exudes a vast influence on what we are allowed to see, and many movies are designed to imprint certain ideas and images on our subconscious mind, so that we will accept reality in the way in which we are told. Christians should be aware of this! Be aware. You are being specifically targeted, and it is not an accident. I believe John had something to say about all of this while exiled on the isle of Patmos, just open the back of your Bible and read a few pages; it’s all been clearly outlined.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Luke, age 23 (USA / I’m just a person, with no relevant affiliation.)
Negative—…This junk is not a PG-13 rating not a R rating… more like a XXX rating. First few moments, violence, hand cut off, porno, really its bad… fully naked women, people on fire. I m only glad I did not hand this to my son without my seeing it first. After 10 seconds and fumbling for the remote I hid this dvd and vowed to return it in the morning. Do not waste your money on this FILTH…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Vicky Luna, age 47 (USA)
Negative
Negative—In a word, disappointing. Underdeveloped storyline, poor screenplay and somewhat disjointed. Too bad, there was potential. Reeves is a good actor, but the laconic character he played does not work; wait for the DVD. The idea that mankind can somehow come up with the goods on his own rang very hollow, probably good discussion material.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Bob Maclean, age 59
Negative—An alien finally deciding the fate of the entire human race after realizing that there is another side to us all thanks to its interaction with “Connelly” and company… truly unimaginative and a sign of the times we’re living in. The movie industry is obviously grasping for straws via “Exploitation” and not even the classic’s are safe any more. This earth has sure stood still alright.

…a movie which sure enough turns out to be nothing more than just another insult to a person’s intelligence… sad trend of awful and repetitive junk that’s unrealistic.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mike, age 30
Negative—I was looking forward to a honest remake of the early film. All I can say is disappointment. Oh, well. The movie might do OK on the Sci-Fi channel, but fell short of my expectations for the big screen. Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly are great actors and I felt the script was weak for their caliber. It would have been better to have developed a story line before the alien ship arrived. Otherwise, it was a cold expressionless pitch for Al Gore’s environmental message.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ed, age 55
Negative—Forget the environment, save the movie! This movie was not a remake, but a sequel of Al Gore’s misguided, misinformed, and preachy “Earth in the Balance.” The absurd notion that aliens would come to earth and exterminate the human race because we haven’t done enough to stop global warming and pollution is insulting. Of course, the USA and it’s military are portrayed as the center of evil in the universe. I love my God, my country, and the men and women of the armed forces. I reject Al Gore’s premise of man-made global-warming as anti-American, anti-Christian, and just plain misguided.

Additionally, the child character played by Jaden Smith is disturbing because he is so hateful and disrespectful to almost everyone with whom he interacts. I can’t imagine any parent wanting their children to behave this way. I do have to hand it to Reeves. He played a very convincing combination of Al Gore and alien in this movie.

Finally, the ending of this movie was so stupid that I wanted to throw tomatoes at the screen! My recommendation is to avoid this thinly veiled anti-american political movie altogether.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Kyle Barrier, age 46
Negative—“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is sadly a horrible film as another typical Hollywood director takes a mighty swing at his own country with global warming and propaganda from Al Gore, saying that the Earth is dying and so is the human race. Well… hate to say it, but they took a swing and missed and hit themselves in the head again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Jonathan Tran, age 25 (USA)
Negative—This movie misses the original by a long shot. First of all, the main actor, Reeves, should have been named Mr. Carpenter, as the original human figure was named. Klaatu was the name of the robot with the red shinning light. Mr. Carpenter represented Christ that came to earth to offer help, and they killed him. He was resurrected and left the earth. It had nothing to do with the environment per se.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Charles Gillihan, age 55 (USA)
Negative—You can rent the movie at a $1 kiosk, but you will wish you had only paid 1 penny. The Secretary of Defense is a horrible actress in this role [she was great in some other movies.] The child is way too rude and unconvincing. And his liberal step-mother, Dr Jensen, is also unconvincing in putting up with the rude child especially in the itsy-bitsy Honda hybrid. The 75 yr old alien is unconvincing. And the worst is John Cleese who just CANNOT play a serious role, especially as a brilliant scientist [but as a brilliant comedian? Most certainly!]. The support of DUI driving is offensive.

The WORST part is the political “man is bad” but inanimate 'earth is good', and earth must be saved from the evil man. Yet, the alien is MORE evil and destructive than man will ever be. What a STUPID movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Chas, age 57 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—Well, on the plus side, this movie was completely clean, which is hard to find nowadays. I’d say any kid over 12 could probably see this. Too bad it was a bad movie. It had a very slow-moving story. It had very little action, and whatever was action packed, I had already seen in the trailer. Now, I don’t mind there being little action, I was just hoping the other parts would, at least, be interesting, which they weren’t. Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly were very boring on screen, and some may feel preached at by the strong environmental message.

I’m a big fan of the original, and the whole time I was in the theater I was saying to myself “I don’t care what the critics say, this is going to be a good movie.” Trust me, it wasn’t. It’s refreshing to see a wholesome movie that people can see amongst a lot of movies that Christians won’t and shouldn’t go to, I just wish that these wholesome movies were actually good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Joel Dugard, age 16 (Canada)
Negative—The offensive content is the way it endorses evolution. Like in a scene where the alien and a kid are in a graveyard. The alien says that universe wastes nothing, that we are just transformed into something else. They’re just neglecting God altogether through the entire film. As far as swearing a girl says once “O my God,” but not much else. I can understand someone watching it for entertainment, but even with that the movie so stupid. The end, the beginning—everything. So I don’t think you should waste your time with this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Samuel O., age 13 (USA)
Negative—I thought this movie was very borning and confusing. I did not finish it, because the endless bombardment of environmentalist propaganda was giving me a headache.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Katie, age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
Bad acting, preachy content… and they have the nerve to call it a ‘Day’…
—Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
…This botched remake of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ seriously dishonors the seriously fine 1951 sci-fi landmark on which it’s based. While technically proficient, the new entry has not benefited from the kind of deep think necessary to justify a reworking…
—Todd McCarthy, Variety
[2 stars]…‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ need not have taken its title so seriously that the plot stands still along with it. …The message of the 2008 version is that we should have voted for Al Gore.…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…the results are soulless and boring. This was supposed to be the winter season’s big special effects picture. So why does it make Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation look like ‘Spider-Man 2’ by comparison?…
—Peter Hartlaub, San Franciso Chronicle
…[2 stars] …the undistinguished script attributed to David Scarpa (‘The Last Castle’) removes the context from a story rooted in a very specific era, as well leaving out almost every memorable scene from the original.…
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post
…dull, unnecessary film… this loud, hammy, and, above all, pointless do-over only serves to point out the genius of the original…
—Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
[2 stars] …Enviro-geddon… Those nano-bugs are pretty neat, but they can’t save ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ from heading south in a hurry. …The final scenes play like a rushed, embarrassed concession to our need for happy endings, no matter how far-fetched.…
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe
“Day the Earth Stood Still” is a stunningly misconceived folly… audiences can be forgiven for shouting rude remarks at the screen.
—Joe Leydon, The Houston Chronicle
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I have not and will not watch this propaganda. The original is one of the greatest sci-fi films ever. When I heard they were remaking it, I was excited. Pretty quickly I figured out that the pagan preachers of Hollywood would likely make this film about the unscientific, anti-christian dogma of climate change/global warming. When I saw the trailers, my greatest fears came true. I’m sick of getting preached at about this garbage, and I refuse to go see a film based on this drivel!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Chris J., age 41 (USA)