When Michael Rennie came to Earth to warn us, we had a choice to listen or perish. When Keanu Reeves came to Earth, he was less than excellent to mankind, which was totally bogus. Presenting, The Day The Earth Stood Still!
In 1951, the world was treated to a cautionary tale of one alien's quest to advise a world of pending danger, the world flipping the alien the middle finger, and the wacky hijinks that ensue during a crazy weekend in Washington D.C.
The Day The Earth Stood Still starred Micheal Rennie as Klaatu, that loveable monotone alien that was interested in letting everyone on Earth know that they were in for a world of hurt unless they joined hands as brothers and united as one peaceful world.
But we enjoy doing this, so I guess we're doomed...
Set in a time when the country was deeply entrenched in the Cold War with our neighbors The Soviet Union, the film offered the right bit of tension as it commented on the fear of an outsider coming into a wholesome community and bringing new and frightening aspects along with him.
Considered a classic by so many, the question is begged "why in the blue hell do you feel you need to remake this movie"? Well the good (that's a stretch) folks at 20 Century Fox, searching for a new movie to put out had a choice between adapting a well written novel about a timeless lover affair between two long time best friends OR remaking a classic sci-fi movie, therin cheapening the meaning as its clumsily rewritten and the original story is torn apart.
But wait...remakes aren't always a bad thing.
If it still embraces the idea of the original movie...you know, the reason why you can actually remake the movie...then it should be good.
But what happens when you make enough changes to the movie that it's a mere shell of the original, standing on its own and casting off a stink that will stick in your nostrils long after you've departed the theater?
Klaatu (Michael Rennie) arrives in Washington D.C. in the middle of a rather busy rush hour, which brings out the military to put him down...but it's okay. He's arrived on Earth to let everyone know he's here to usher in peace. When he attempts to call his mom and let her know he's arrived safely, a soldier that would later be promoted to captain for his no nonsense attitude shoots Klaatu in the arm. Old Klaats doesn't mind as he just wants to get his message to the world leaders before "it's too late". When the military and doctors tell him that the world leaders are kinda busy doing their hair and are just buried under paperwork, Klaatu decides to borrow a major's civilian clothes and slip out and get his word out in a clandestine alien way.
The nowadays Klaatu doesn't travel around in a clunky old metal spaceship. He prefers to pilot a gigantic glowing marble, which is what beings of a higher intelligence would most definitely fly around in. Instead of Washington, they decide to make "first contact" in the Big Apple in this version and this Klaatu also gets shot except this time it's because the soldier paid to see "The Lake House" and couldn't get his money back. He's ushered off to a far more estringent military compound where the bad military men are determined to get answers from the visitor they enjoy shooting at. Unlike the earlier version of Klaatu, when told a meeting with the world leaders is a bit of a problem, Klaats decides to get his captors attention in a totally evolved way.
KLAATU: "No, few people COULD derive the subtext from "Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey, so I forgive you. Jackoff."
While the original version of Klaatu goes out to observe the world and its people with an impartial eye, meets up with a widower and his nosey ass little son and through them learns that the people of the Earth are worth sparing, the new Klaatu is an extraterrestrial with a chip on his shoulder that is all but convinced that we're all screwed and just bend over and accept it.
The Klaatu character is supposed to be an enlightened being that's here to deliver a message and sees enough good in humans to reassure him that we're worth it. The newer version is a pretty nihilistic visitor from the stars, bringing his weapons of destruction all ready to go as if he were just delivering the eviction notice and was going to catch a cab and be gone.
Old Klaats, who's getting nowhere in the talking thing sets up a demonstration of his abilities to gain attention by shutting down all of the power around the Washington DC area, standing the Earth...well, at least Washington "still".
For this show, they shoot Klaatu again and kill him this time, but his alien technology actually manages to bring him back, delivering a stirring speech to the many people of the world that gathered to raid his ship and take whatever valuables they could find.
"...but be warned. If you continue to allow reality television to go unchecked and fail to effectively find a way to shut Kanye West the fuck up, your world will be reduced to a burning cinder. The decision rests with you."
The newer Klaatu believes that humanity has to be destroyed because the planet is more important than the people, a perfect fixer upper for a more deserving race but is swayed in the eleventh hour by the newer version of the widower and her adopted Fresh Prince (but nowhere near Bel Air). In this version, the only way for humanity to be saved once marked for destruction is for Klaatu to sacrifice himself, which is really big of the guy who for most of the movie wouldn't piss on our planet if it were on fire.
I am like SO emotionally unattached from caring about humans, dude...
Was it the actual newer version of Klaatu that killed it? Or was it Mr. Reeves playing his usual "stone face" character that we've seen in every one of his movies? Well, if the alien spaceship carrying Klaatu and Gort was traveling at and couldn't go under 50,000 miles an hour or the Earth would be destroyed, this might have worked better.
Gort is the traveling copmanion of Klaatu, an 8 foot tall automaton who basically had Klaatu's back while visting the Earth. When they land in Washington and are surrounded by the military, Gort is busy checking the messages on his answering machine inside of the ship when the soldiers go and shoot Klaatu. When Gort jogs outside and surveys the scene, he destroys several assault rifles and some other military munitions.
He doesn't have to speak. He has a fucking disintegration beam in his head. Nuff said.
Called off by Klaatu, Gort chills out outside of the ship while the military try to examine him, cut him and eventually seal him up for "his" safety but he breaks out of it returns to just hanging out and waiting for Klaatu's return. When Klaatu is unexepectedly (yeah, right) shot to death, it's Gor-tay that brings his running buddy Klaatu back to life and after the now gun shy Klaatu tells everybody to get along or else, they leave the world with a decision to make.
The newer version of Gort, unlike a dude in a foam rubber suit is totally CGI (Clearly Globbed In-to-every-movie) and this Gort has a totally different role. He arrived with Klaatu and when the bullets start tearing into his alien bud, Gort doesn't just disable the military weapons, he blacks out the entire Big Apple.
I was in the middle of an episode of "Lost", jackass! Fucking CGI monsters!
Unlike the other Gort, this one is dead set on destroying humanity whether Klaatu says yea or nay and when the military attacks their giant aggie / marble spaceship, they manage to capture him but trying to see what made the big guy tick only pissed him off. Gort transformed into...nanite like bugs that wiped out everything in their path. A swarm of nanites on its way to wipe out humanity along with the giant marble in Manhattan.
One of the greatest aspects of the original film was the fact that this big lumbering machine that could've very simply wiped out everyone on the planet was holding off on doing so because it was enlightened to a point of offering us a chance at surviving.
New Gort is less enlightened and more set on wiping out several billion life forms cause New Gort is done listening. He came to Earth to chew bubble gum and annihilate humanity...and he's all out of bubble gum.
The original Helen was a 50's secretary dealing with losing her husband in the war and tending to a precocious (little a-hole nowadays) little boy when he runs into a man from another world. She's not the stereotypical woman of the times as she ignores her boyfriend and common sense when they all say something's not right about this stranger. After Klaatu gets gunned down in cold blood, she balls up and visits Gort who would normally destroy her but escapes that using a special password.
Klaatu...Posada...Nick Nolte...or something like that...
The new Helen is no longer just a secretary, now she's an astrobiologist, which conveniently helps her to better understand her situation and not be as menial as the woman who single handedly saved the alien in the original movie by standing up to his mechanical crony. To balance out Helen's brand new fabulousness, they still bump off her husband but saddle her with a stepson who's life got flipped and turned upside down.
I farted in the director's face and he told me how fragrant it was! Oh man, I can't spell nepotism yet, but it sure is fun!
In the original, Helen's young son Bobby was a scamp that followed Klaatu around in search of a "daddy substitute" but even though he freaks when he discovers Klaatu's actually an alien, he comes around in the end and remembers the two priceless diamonds that Klaatu sold him for $2, covering Billy's college tuition and a year's worth of call girls.
In the updated version, Bobby is transformed into Jacob, a kid who butts heads with his stepmother not just because of the death of his father but because she never lets him visit Uncle Phil or Aunt Viv anymore.
While young and with the possibility of improvement, Jaden Smith's performance in the film was not unlike several hundred other "rebellious youth" characters from movies with the single parent dealing with the troubled child. They just added an alien that possesses only one facial expression and brought the destroyer of humanity on his visit to Earth.
Sure, it made money. If they had cast someone like Brendan Fraser or Carrot Top in the role of Klaatu, who would go see it? A bankable star in a lead role with enough viral exposure will pull in a large amount of money. Once that money is made, the villainous execs retreat to their darkened lairs and turn on the classic movie stations to choose the next movie to "re-imagine".
When someone tells you a story, if you enjoy it, you can take it with you and tell it to others so they can enjoy it.
If you change the story when you tell it because you believe it sounds better with your changes, you aren't actually telling that story that you enjoyed. You changed what the story was.
Sometimes change is good. It can keep an alien robot from destroying your planet.
Sometimes though, change makes a good thing decidedly bad...