Now I have to admit that I can't recall the details of the original movie. I recall seeing parts of it, but not the entire thing, and certainly not with enough recollection to compare the two movies. So you could say I've gone into this 2008 remake pretty fresh. What I discovered was a fairly impressive sci-fi film which shows the potential first contact with someone not from this planet. While Klaatu may hold a human form, he is not human. The first 30 minutes of the film are quite riviting with the appearance of the sphere, and the first contact with Klaatu. Following this though the movie degenerates into a fugitive styled movie. Fortunately there are some unique themes present - with the ultimate message being one very important to today's world. I won't spoil it for you but obviously the filmmakers couldn't recreate the themes of the original movie about the formation of the United Nations.
Another brilliant actor who appears in the movie is John Cleese. When I saw his name in the credits I was hoping for some brilliant scenes, however he is only in the movie for a matter of minutes, and it really disappoints when it's over. Kathy Bates plays Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson in the movie. It's an interesting role as she battles with Klaatu about who owns the planet and America being the one he must answer to rather then the leaders of the planet. It may not be accurate to how America really thinks, but it is certainly one very wide perception that many non-Americans have about the what America thinks of the rest of the world.
Visual effects are a standout aspect of The Day the Earth Stood Still. From the enormous GORT, to the arrival of the spheres, to the rather destructive ending everything looks brilliant. It wasn't until I was doing some research after seeing the movie that I realised that WETA Digital were the primary visual effects company (they, of course, worked on The Lord of the Rings movies). For a movie with "only" an $US80 million budget there are some pretty amazing special effects here.
Still, there are some pretty ludicrous scenes and setups in the movie. When NASA discovers the object heading towards Earth why would you collect your top scientists and the put them all in a helicopter right above the projected impact zone?! Why is it that one of the soldiers fires his weapon at Klaatu at the beginning - aren't they meant to be trained to handle weapons? I could go on...
There are several other audio options on this disc. First up are French, Italian and Russian DTS 768kbps audio tracks which are all impressive and won't disappoint even if they don't quite have the fidelity of the main English track. There is another track which is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps however we aren't sure which language it is - possibly Ukrainian? Finally we have an English Descriptive Audio track which is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps and a fairly impressive effort.
In-Movie Features: This is an interactive styled feature which allows you to turn on or off three features. By pressing the green button on your remote you can turn on the audio commentary by writer David Scarpa. By hitting the Blue button you can see the Pre-Viz and Special effects footage while the Yellow button turns on the Storyboards. This is a great feature, but the only annoyance for PS3 owners is that without these coloured buttons on your normal Dual Shock 3 controller you have to bring up the menu.
Klaatu's Unseen Artifacts: Picture in Picture Track: Pretty self explanatory this feature put up a small window with extra bits and pieces such as the pre-viz sequences and special effects. This is the same as the one accessed in the In-Movie feature by pressing the Blue button.
Deleted Scenes (1:56/HD): Three deleted scenes are presented here in High Definition. They are very short, and could have remained in the film although they don't add much to the storyline.
Re-imagining The Day (30:06/HD): This interesting featurette looks at updating the classic movie for a modern audience. There are plenty of interviews here and some footage from the original picture to demonstrate the differences.
Unleashing GORT (13:52/HD): This featurette looks at creating GORT for this latest movie including the lengthy design process prior to filming.
Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life (23:08/HD): A rather interesting documentary about the search for life on other worlds including the SETI project and other attempts.
The Day The Earth Was "Green" (14:04/HD): With the world on the brink of environment disaster this featurette looks at how the producers made this a "Green" movie. That being, environmentally friendly during the filming of the movie given its entire message and News Corp's promise to be Carbon neutral by 2010.
Commentary by writer David Scarpa: This audio commentary is the same as that featured in the In-Movie Features. It's quite interesting and worth a listen if you're a fan of the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (1:48/HD): The theatrical trailer for The Day The Earth Stood Still presented in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio encoded at 448kbps.
Digital Copy on DVD: While we never received this disc for reviewing the retail release contains a second disc (DVD) with a digital copy of the film for those interested.
Review By: Dave Warner