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MOVIE REVIEW FOR ...
The Day the Earth Stood Still

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connell, Kathy Bates, John Cleese;   Released: 2008

This 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' review written by Mark Jeantheau, Grinning Planet.

DVD cover for The Day the Earth Stood Still What if a giant, booming voice called out from the sky and told us that the cumulative human "ecological footprint" is slowly destroying the planet? And what if the voice further explained that this is not a matter of us using the wrong technologies, but rather is due to inherent flaws in human nature—-greed, callousness, and a general disregard for the concerns of future generations and especially for other species?

Now, in reality, many of the more sensitive humans on the planet have already heard this voice, figuratively speaking, and have been working to convince others that radical change is necessary for our continued prosperity here on planet Earth.

But right now, Grinning Planet is not here to pat environmentalists, biodiversity experts, and other do-gooders on the back; we're here to review The Day the Earth Stood Still, a 2008 remake of the 1951 classic.

In this movie, the cautionary voice is not booming out of the sky, but instead belongs to Klaatu, a "visitor" played by Keanu Reeves. He has come to Earth to hold discussions with world leaders, to inform us that humans are choking the life out of the planet, and that this must change.

Of course, small humans in big positions are not necessarily inclined to sit down and talk turkey with an opinionated alien, so fascination at Klaatu's appearance is quickly trumped by fear and firearms. The quick trigger on the order to ammo-up is perhaps a little over-stereotyped, given the wondrous appearance of the great glowing globe of light in Central Park and the obviously advanced creature that emerges from it. But such behavior is not out of the question from a species whose leaders still insist we can only have peace through war.

Anyway, to go further into the plot of The Day the Earth Stood Still would not be fair to prospective viewers. It's not so much that there are a lot of surprises in the plot, but just letting it wash over you with minimal foreknowledge yields a surprisingly emotional impact.

There are indeed a number of dangerous (and worsening) problems that actually do threaten the health of the planet (and us)—for instance, climate disruption, desertification, drought, and agricultural failure; dysregulation of ocean systems; the potential for nuclear war; global chemical toxification and the likelihood of biotechnology and/or nanotechnology running amok at some point. It is generally acknowledged by biologists that, even without any of the more catastrophic of these things happening, humans are well on the way to causing a "Sixth Great Extinction" of other species. But we have largely ignored scientists' increasingly urgent warnings about the need to focus on these problems, and to examine ourselves and our duty as the highest order of life on the planet. The Day the Earth Stood Still serves up a powerful reminder that there are consequences to willful ignorance and inaction.

The fact that the film is not subtle about its message only makes clearer the parallel between this movie world and our real one. But this is not a preachy film. Klaatu delivers no fist-pounding speeches; instead he offers only softly stated facts, leaving it for the human hearers to do the logical thing—or not.

This remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still is well acted, spices things up with some cool special effects, and offers plot-action that keeps your eyes on the screen. It's worth seeing for everyone—whether you're an eco-freak, or a human of any of the other freaky flavors.

Check out The Day the Earth Stood Still at Amazon.com

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Liner notes for 'The Day the Earth Stood Still':
Categories: Sci-Fi, Environmental.   Directed by Scott Derrickson. Runtime: 103 min

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