The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

dayearth011928, India.  Keanu Reeves, sporting a beard of Almost Human density, is sharpening his crampons when he sees a bright light over the horizon.  He climbs a vertical face to find a glowing sphere.  He brushes away some surface ice with his pick, causing the sphere to go mini-nova and knock him out.  He awakens to find the sphere gone and a scar on his hand.

In the present day, super scientist Jennifer Connelly is recruited along with a group of other experts in the sciences and engineering.  Her specialty is astro-biology which would seem to be pretty simple given that no biology has been discovered out in the astro.  Her friend Don Draper spots her in the crowd and fast-tracks her inside.

An object has been spotted speeding toward earth, Manhattan specifically.  And, oh yeah, it will be here in 78 minutes.  The group boards a helicopter and flies over New York City.  If this brain-trust is supposed to save humanity, I am unclear about how it makes sense to airlift them to ground zero where an object traveling 18,600 miles a second is going to impact.

dayearth07Luckily, the object slows down before impact and lands in Central Park.  When the dust settles, it is revealed to be sphere like the one in 1928, only much larger.  A being emerges, and approaches Jennifer.  So the army shoots him.  The giant robot AL GORT then follows, knocking out all the electrical equipment and weapons.

The injured alien is revealed to be Keanu Reeves again, or at least a pile of his DNA swiped in 1928, and is take to a hospital.  Why the 80 year gap?  Why choose a guy in India when, even in 1928, New York would be the likely location to address the world (or maybe London or Paris — definitely not the Karakoram Mountains.),  And they just happened to pick the only guy in India who was not Indian or British?

In the hospital, much like Neo, Keanu is reborn slimy, fully formed and hairless, emerging from a gelatinous goo.  Within minutes he is back to his movie-star self, with a full head of hair but no beard.

Kathy Bates shows up as the Secretary of Defense and begins grilling him.  She is particularly repulsive in this role.  I’m not sure what I’ve seen her in since Misery, so maybe it is her, or maybe it is her resemblance to an actual vaguely feminine, arrogant, feckless shrew of a Secretary of State — referring, of course to John Kerry.

Keanu, or Klaatu — his freakishly similar alien name — is having none of this, so escapes.  Proving that he truly is not of his earth and does not understand our strange ways, he eats a tuna salad sandwich from a vending machine.  Predictably, he passes out in the mens room of the train station.

After being revived, he calls Jennifer to help him, and she shows up with her obnoxious step-son.  Klaatu Reeves applies an ointment to his wound which heals it and conveniently even dissolves the stitches.  He directs Jennifer to drive out into the country where he retrieves another sphere from a pond.  Other spheres around the world begin collecting the earth’s flora and fauna like an ark.

Klaatu Reeves finally spills the beans.  He is not here to save humanity, he and robot AL GORT are here to save the earth from humanity.  Trying to make the case for our species, Jennifer takes him to see her mentor John Cleese.  Unfortunately her obnoxious son rats them out to the government.

When the government tries to use a diamond drill on AL GORT, he breaks down into billions of metallic insect-like nanites.  The nanite swarm spreads, devouring soldiers, stadiums, trucks.  After seeing Jennifer crying with her obnoxious son, Klaatu Reeves has a Terminatoresque “I know now why you cry” moment.

He stops the nanites, sparing humanity, but the sphere lets out another blast.  This one, an EMP, shuts down everything electric.  IMDb and Wiki both indicate that the earth is left forever without electrical capability, but I don’t see where that is indicated.  Klaatu Reeves does say that there will be a cost to humanity, but that could have just meant we had to rebuild, giving earth a breather.  And how exactly would we be prohibited from using electricity forever?  Did they suspend the laws of physics?

OK, say the all-knowing, beneficent Klaatu Reeves and AL GORT have thrust us back into the stone age for the good of the earth.  Welcome back TB, plague, polio, smallpox, dysentery.  Anywhere people are clustered, look forward to horse shit up to your knees. Hooked up to a dialysis machine?  Don’t start any long novels.  I just hope these brainiacs remembered to provide for the the cooling towers in 400+ nuclear power plants around the world.  And it is a certainty that as civilization breaks down, the biggest growth industries will be tribalism, slavery and war.

Maybe some other do-gooder aliens will show up in a thousand years and save humanity again — this time by giving us the miracle of electricity.

It didn’t move the earth for me, and I’ve had my fill of sanctimonious aliens, but it was much better than I had been lead to expect.


  • This is the role Klaatu Reeves was born to play — a blank-faced, emotionless “other”.  And he pulls it off very well.  Would have been nice to have one “whoa” though.
  • How is nanites not in spellcheck?
  • Supposedly Klaatu Barada Nikto is in here somewhere, but I missed it.  Many points in the original movie are revisited — names are re-used, and scenes re-played, sometimes in a different context.  But why bury something so iconic? Were they afraid kiddies would only know it from Army of Darkness?
  • Based on Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates.

Al Gort

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