Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Day the Earth Stood Still

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence
Nudity/Sex:Brief implied non-sexual nudity
Violence/Scariness:Sci-fi violence, shooting, explosions, massive destruction, character hit by car
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:December 12, 2008
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence
Profanity: None
Nudity/Sex: Brief implied non-sexual nudity
Alcohol/Drugs: Wine
Violence/Scariness: Sci-fi violence, shooting, explosions, massive destruction, character hit by car
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: December 12, 2008

In the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, a spaceship landed in front of the Washington Monument to warn the people of earth that they were on the path to destruction. The problem then was the Cold War and nuclear arms race. In 2008, the remake has a space orb land in New York City and once again a humanoid-looking creature from another planet comes to earth because of another impending doom. “If the Earth dies, you die,” he says. “If you die, the Earth survives.”


Jennifer Connelly, who seems to enjoy sharing the screen with super-smart crazy guys (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Hulk”), plays Helen, a scientist brought in to try to help assess the threat level from the two beings to come out of the orb. The first would have done better to have had a scientist to assess his own threat level because as soon as it stepped out of the orb someone shot him. The second is a silent, colossus-like giant of a robot with an ominous glow through the eye-slit, standing as sentry.

Klaatu has assumed human form (Keanu Reeves) so that he can speak to the world leaders at the UN. But a suspicious Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates) decides to treat him like a galactic terrorist, so soon Klaatu, Helen, and her stepson (Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), are on the run. They make the obligatory visit to the Wise Man in the Woods (John Cleese, terrific as a Nobel award-winner for “altruistic biology”) and try to evade the efforts of military and law enforcement to capture them while Helen tries to demonstrate that humans are worth saving.


Director Scott Derickson is a committed Christian, and he has given the original story themes of sacrifice and redemption that will resonate with those who are open to a spiritual message. There is a reference to Noah’s Ark. Klaatu has the power to heal. He brings a dead man back to life and even walks on water. The most important themes are deeply spiritual as well, stewardship, respect for the interdependence of all things, and hope.

  • JoJo Baggins

    This review is terrible. I have never read such a God awful review. Incorrigible.

  • jestrfyl

    Ah, but does Klaatu learn to Silly Walk? Can he defeat the Black Knight and tell Tim the carrying capacity of a sparrow? Or, can he turn mere tap water into a delightful cabernet? Or perhaps cure our addiction to styro-wormies in packaging? Only then will he be able to save humanity AND the earth!
    you make the movie seem better than the TV ads do. I may see it in a big cinema and not wait for the discount theater.

  • jestrfyl

    O may O be pelted with slices of (unfried, please) Spam! I meant to type “swallow”, not sparrow. O’ No – NOT THE COMFY CHAIR!!!

  • Nell Minow

    Well, thanks for the comment, JoJo, but it would be more interesting and much more persuasive if you provided arguments instead of insults. You don’t like the writing? You disagree with what I said? I left something out? The purpose of a review is to explain the critic’s response to the film in a manner that is interesting to read, provides some context for understanding it, and provides a sense of whether the reader might appreciate it. So, let me know what I could have done better.
    And as for you jestrfyl, I admit your comments — both of them — are more amusing than the movie!

  • phxfan

    Why do you think that this movie got bad reviews? I thought it looked good in the previews. Thanks for the review also and your response.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, phxfan! I think some critics were expecting it to be more like the original or maybe they wanted something more hard-core sci-fi. But I found it engaging and imaginative and very touching. If you see it, let me know what you think!
    I really appreciate your comment. Thanks again.

  • dave

    I was disappointed with this move. I left the theater feeling I was being preached at by Al Gore and all the greenies. The ending of the movie seemed more like a “Hey, we gotta cut the movie at 1.5 hrs” (thankfully) than actually coming to a resolution.

  • JoJo Baggins

    This review reads like cliffsnotes. Let’s tell the entire story in short hand shall we? ‘First these two guys come out of the orb, then one gets shot, then he hooks up with a science babe, then they run, then they trip, then they get up and run some more, then the movie ends. Sigh, and respect for all things is shown.’ Terrible… Terrible I say! Just terrible!

  • Nell Minow

    Ah, thanks for the elucidation, JoJo. The challenge for a movie critic is to give enough of an idea of the plot to let people know what the movie is about without giving too much away and that can sound like shorthand or a superficial summary, I know. I’m sorry that my attempt to provide a slightly playful overlay of irony (reference to the obligatory visit to the Wise Man in the Woods, somewhere between a cliche and a tradition in films of this kind) did not come through. So, you were looking for something more detailed? Did you find a review of the movie that you liked?

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Dave! I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts. As you can tell from my review, I don’t think the movie was any preachier than the original, which was about the cold war and nuclear disarmament. I’d like to know more about what kind of resolution you had in mind — without a risking a spoiler it is hard to justify the ending but as I said in the review there is a strong element of Christian symbolism, sacrifice, and redemption in the film and in that respect I thought the conclusion was satisfying.
    Thanks for taking the time to write and I hope you will comment again on the movies you see.

  • cashback

    I didn’t enjoy the new film because they changed the story too much from the old film.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Cashback. The original is a classic.

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