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The Day the Earth Stood Still(2008)
Renowned scientist Dr. Helen Benson finds herself face to face with an alien called Klaatu, who travels across the universe to warn of an impending global crisis. When forces beyond Helena's control treat the extraterrestrial as a hostile and deny his request to address the world's leaders, she and her estranged stepson Jacob quickly discover the deadly ramifications of Klaatu's claim that he is "a friend to the Earth". Now Helen must find a way to convince the entity who was sent to destroy us that mankind is worth saving--but it may be too late. The process has begun.
For more about The Day the Earth Stood Still and the The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray release, see the The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 8, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Michael Rennie
Director: Scott Derrickson
» See full cast & crew
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray Review
Slick special effects and spectacular sound can't save an otherwise mediocre movie.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 8, 2009
It's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.
A remake is a dangerous thing. A remake of a timeless classic is a tragedy waiting to happen. That's about the gist of the 2008 take on the 1951 Science Fiction masterpiece The Day the Earth Stood Still. This remake works well enough in some areas but completely flops in others, resulting in a movie with a jumbled feel, a pace that begins strong but slows to a crawl in the second and third acts, a heavy-handed message, and a resolution that comes far too easily. While the updated version once again features an alien race warning mankind against the dangers of self-made destruction, includes an occasional homage to classic scenes from the original film, and features stellar special effects and a beefy soundtrack, it's the film's core -- the meaning and the message that comes with it -- that comes off as forced into the story to give the film a modern edge that doesn't really work. It's a well-meaning movie, and just good enough to warrant a watch, but it fails to leave the lasting impression of the original.
University professor and expert on extraterrestrial biology Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly, Dark City) finds herself whisked away by government officials and placed on board a long-bodied choppper filled with scientists of varied backgrounds and military personnel. She and the others soon discover that an object is hurtling towards Earth with Manhattan in its crosshairs. When the object lands instead of crashes, an alien being and a gigantic robot protector, invulnerable to weapons and capable of mass destruction, emerge from the craft's mysterious interior. A solider with an itchy trigger finger shoots the alien. When the military whisks the wounded alien to a secret research facility, scientists discover that the exotic creature wears a biologically engineered suit, and within the suit is -- a man! He is Klaaatu (Keanu Reeves, Point Break), an alien in human form with a dire warning for Earth: the planet is in its last days. As Earth is but one of a few planets capable of sustaining complex life forms, mankind's wanton destruction of the big blue marble cannot stand. It is up to Benson, her step son Jacob (Jaden Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness), and Professor Karl Barnhardt (John Cleese, Igor) to show Klaatu the best of humanity and convince him of the importance of granting the species one final chance to set things right.
First, the good. Special effects have come a long way since 1951, and The Day the Earth Stood Still is proof-positive that well-done effects may greatly enhance a movie if done right and placed naturally and effectively into a film. Nothing is particularly groundbreaking here; instead, it's the integration of the effects into the film that allow them to work so well. The Day the Earth Stood Still does well to create in the first act of the film a sense of both panic and astonishment as events rapidly develop; the scenes are engrossing and well-staged, the tension palpable, and the excitement of the pending arrival of the aliens all making for rather good and effective filmmaking. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of The Day the Earth Stood Still is Gort, the large robot that stands guard over the spherical craft in Central Park. The primary difference between the 2008 version and the original 1951 character is in its size; it is now some 20+ feet tall, towering over all, but the filmmakers have smartly retained the basic shape and appearance of the character. It is in Gort that the remake truly sets itself apart from the original from a character perspective, giving it a greater stature and more menacing countenance while remaining faithful to the original. Finally, the performances in the film are hit-or-miss, but are generally solid. The oft-criticized Reaves is fine in his role. As an alien with a grim task and limited exposure to the intricacies of humanity, his rather stoic presence, forced dialogue, and slightly skewered mannerisms reflect the origins and mission of the character well. Young Jaden Smith is also good in his role, bringing some genuine emotion and humanity to his character.
The Day the Earth Stood Still doesn't fall victim to the old "style over substance" pitfall. The film valiantly attempts to put great import on its theme of finding the good in mankind and overlooking the shortcomings of the species in favor of the little things -- love, happiness, and art, for example -- and thereby discovering the value of the species not through measurable quantities like pollutants or fatalities from conflict, but rather in the more abstract factors that also define the human species. Unfortunately, the message is too heavy-handed and the film plays as far too self-important and, at times, even preachy, which removes from it much of the entertainment value that one would expect to come with a special effects-heavy film such as this. In fact, parts of the film become downright dull, particularly once the mystery and grandeur of the opening act of the film, an act that is marked by a great sense of mystery, discovery, and wonder, give way to the real crux of the film. Thereafter, the film often feels like a bad episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," where Picard and crew must convince a vastly technologically superior and supposedly more intelligent race of beings to spare from destruction the Enterprise or all of mankind. The Day the Earth Stood Still attempts to be substantive while at the same time entertaining, but the merger between the two generally doesn't work in this instance. The film often feels like two separate entities competing for screen time and importance, only to have one cancel out the other.
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Day the Earth Stood Still arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer that is easily of reference quality. Fine detail is striking, and the clarity of the transfer is remarkable in most every scene. The print is in absolutely pristine condition, no surprise given the big-budget, recent-release status of the film. Various nighttime, exterior shots of New York City feature startling levels of clarity, doubtful the cityscape could look better were the television a window rather than a display device replaying a film. Close-up shots reveal detail that is perfectly lifelike in appearance; a close-up of a doctor's surgical mask, for example, showcases every stitch and texture in the material; his several-hour-old beard sees every hair, and the fine lines in the face, particularly around the eyes, reveal every nuance of the skin's surface. The film takes on a blue-gray, steely look. In that way, colors are slightly muted but only insofar as they fit in with the intended look of the film. Although the film has a somewhat cold, uninviting appearance, detail, texture, sharpness, and clarity never suffer. Whites remain stable and blacks are terrifically inky. The disc sees no apparent edge enhancement, heavy noise reduction, blocking, or any other visible anomalies at normal viewing distances. In short, The Day the Earth Stood Still is another fine transfer from Fox, the disc a standout despite its somewhat muted color palette.
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fox delivers The Day the Earth Stood Still to Blu-ray with a remarkable DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. From the opening moments of the film, this soundtrack proves its mettle and establishes itself as one of the strongest, clearest, and most realistic tracks yet. A cold wind swirls about the soundstage, flowing precisely through each and every speaker, while music plays with precision across the front soundstage. It practically creates a chill in the room and is the first of a number of demo-worthy audio sequences that should begin to make the rounds at home theater retailers as go-to speaker and audio gear demonstration showpieces. The remainder of the film's reference-quality segments come from more traditional, action-oriented sequences. The many scenes featuring military hardware shine. Helicopter rotors spin around the listening area in several scenes, the sonic impact of the blades practically devastating to the senses. Bass kicks into overdrive throughout the film; the revelation of the spacecraft in chapter four features a practically nonstop rumbling that is deep and low, providing the subwoofer with a hefty workout. Every action sequence sounds marvelous, with the soundstage and subwoofer used to incredible effect, creating a truly immersive environment that places the listener directly into the movie. As expected, dialogue reproduction is perfect. The Day the Earth Stood Still ranks among the best soundtracks currently available on Blu-ray.
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Day the Earth Stood Still lands on Blu-ray with plenty of bonus features. First is a feature-length commentary track with Writer David Scarpa that is available either from the main menu or via the green button on the remote control. Scarpa provides a rapid-fire commentary that proves fairly interesting throughout. He begins by jumping right in by discussing the original concept for the film's open and moving on to share his thoughts on the characters, real-world inspirations for certain segments of the film, updating the appearance and function of the alien technology, and more. The track does present several gaps in the comments that become rather cumbersome, but otherwise, Scarpa offers a solid track that fans should enjoy. Pressing the blue button while playing the movie presents a picture-in-picture feature that showcases "pre-viz" sequences, special effects progression footage, conceptual art, and photos. Pressing the yellow button accesses hand-drawn storyboards. These features are also accessible through the main menu feature entitled Klaatu's Unseen Artifacts: 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' Picture-In-Picture Track.
Build Your Own Gort allows users to construct their own version of the robot by choosing from a collection of heads, torsos, arms, and legs. Re-Imagining 'The Day' (1080p, 30:06) looks at the challenge of living up to the legacy of the original film while lending a unique look, feel, and message to the 2008 remake. The piece covers a broad spectrum of topics, from an examination of the importance of the 1951 version of the film to a look at the making of various aspects of the new film. Unleashing Gort (1080p, 13:52) looks at the challenging process of designing the film's most striking and imposing character. Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life (1080p, 23:08) takes an interesting look at mankind's fascination with and technology utilized in the search for intelligent life beyond Earth. The Day the Earth Was 'Green' (1080p, 14:04) examines the environmentally-friendly theme of the film and Fox's commitment to turning green. Next up are a collection of three deleted scenes (1080p, 1:56), three still galleries (Concept Art, Storyboards, and Production Photos), and the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:48). This disc is also D-Box ready.
This release of The Day the Earth Stood Still also includes two additional discs. The first is a Blu-ray release of the original version of the film from 1951. The disc is virtually identical to that of the December 2, 2008 Blu-ray release, with the same menu, the same audio and subtitle options, and a 1080p transfer presented in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The only difference is the omission of the original release's extensive supplemental section, all-in-all, a fantastic bonus, despite the absence of the extras. Also included is a third disc that contains a digital copy of the 2008 film, suitable for viewing on-the-go. Played on a second generation iPod Touch, the video quality is on par with the average digital copy. It sports nice colors and detail but sees plenty of blocking throughout. On the flip side, the audio is very good, with a nice sense of space across the two channels, good music reproduction, and aggressive sound effects.
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a movie with conflicting elements that manage to drag the entirety of the experience down. On one hand, the film is at times exciting and amazing to look at. The special effects are indeed special, and parts of the movie play on a grandiose scale that are often awe-inspiring to say the least. On the other hand, the film force-feeds a message for a new generation into the plot. The original 1951 version also featured a message, but here, it never gels into the material, sometimes feels like an excuse to showcase the effects, and the resolution to the plot seems too convenient and easy. The message and the action never come together to make a cohesive whole, resulting in a terribly uneven movie that sees flashes of potential and near brilliance that succumb to a too-heavy-handed and seemingly politically-charged theme. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray presentation of The Day the Earth Stood Still is, in a word, extraordinary. The picture and audio are of reference quality, among the best yet on Blu-ray, and the supplements are extensive, topped off by the inclusion of the original 1951 film on a separate Blu-ray disc. Despite the mediocre quality of the movie, the amazing visuals, astounding soundtrack, and the inclusion of a full movie as a bonus feature makes the complete package easy to recommend.
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The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Day The Earth Stood Still Remake Coming to Blu-ray - February 10, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the 2008 remake of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' to Blu-ray on April 7th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This three-disc set will feature a digital copy of the film as well as a copy of ...
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