Editors' pick

The Day the Earth Stood Still

MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
In this remake of the 1951 film of the same title, an extraterrestrial visitor (Keanu Reeves) and his robot counterpart mysteriously arrive on Earth. A woman (Jennifer Connelly) and her son learn the chilling meaning behind the alien's proclamation that he is a "friend to the Earth.''
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, John Hamm, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jaden Smith
Director: Scott Derrickson
Running time: 1:44
Release: Opened Dec 12, 2008
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Editorial Review

There must be legions of classic-film fans gleefully sharpening their knives for "The Day the Earth Stood Still," a present-day remake of the 1951 science-fiction cult favorite. That movie, directed by the great all-rounder Robert Wise, helped define not just a genre but an entire era, with its allegorical critique of Cold War politics. Surely a remake has Wise spinning in his grave!

Well, yes and no. Although the new version, which stars Keanu Reeves, is likely to make audiences pine for the meta-irony of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," it's not a complete failure. Reeves is uniquely well suited for the role of Klaatu, the alien life form that warns Earthlings of the coming apocalypse unless they change their ways.

Helping him is astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), whose young stepson, Jacob (Jaden Smith), thinks Klaatu is the enemy. The real star of both versions of the movie, a robot named Gort, has been confiscated after trying to save Klaatu's life.

While a big deal is being made that the film is being shown in Imax theaters, the big bells and whistles don't make their presence known until the last half-hour of the film, when a swarm of malignant metallic locusts descends upon the Earth.

Solemn, sober and efficient, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" gets the job done and moves on. And Wise, far from spinning in his grave, no doubt has simply shifted position for an untroubled eternal rest.

-- Ann Hornaday (Dec. 12, 2008)

Contains sci-fi disaster images and violence.