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The Day the Earth Stood Still (3-Disc Special Edition) - Blu-ray DVD / arthouse and international DVD / drama DVD / suspense DVD / Academy Award-winning DVD review
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (3-DISC SPECIAL EDITION) Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 stars
Featuring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Jon Hamm
Director: Scott Derrickson Distributor: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 07 April 2009 Runtime: 104 min.
(3 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Full Screen, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio - English; 5.1 Dolby Digital - Spanish, French), Subtitles (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin), Packaged with original 1951 version of the film, Deleted scenes, Re-Imagining "The Day," Unleashing Gort, Watching The Skies: In Search Of Extraterrestrial Life, The Day The Earth Was "Green", Commentary (writer David Scarpa), Still galleries, Digital copy for portable media players, Klaatu's Unseen Artifacts (Picture-in-picture track), "Build Your Own GORT"

So they've done a remake of 1951's sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it's not bad. In the original, the aliens come to earth essentially to issue a warning: "Keep your nukes on your planet or we'll kick your collective ass." Head alien Klaatu shows up in an iconic 1950's flying disc, along with a seven-foot-tall robotic protector named Gort that shoots lasers out of its eye.

In the updated version, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) arrives in a shining orb. Gort shows up after someone jumps the gun and shoots Klaatu here, too, though the classic line Klaatu barada nikto is spoken only once and not at the climax of the film. In fact, it's only discernible through the subtitles. In this version, "GORT" is an acronym coined by the military.

The updated version changes the reason for the alien meet 'n' greet. Klaatu puts it simply: "If the Earth dies, you die. If the human race dies, the Earth survives." Life-sustaining planets (Class-M planets to Trekkers) are so rare in the universe that the aliens must intervene on our planet because we're screwing it up for the rest of the species. The Earth is approaching the tipping point, he says. Good to know that the aliens of the universe read Malcolm Gladwell, too.

Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is one of the scientists commandeered by the government to help with the spaceship. Like the other scientists, she is more eager to understand and listen to the extraterrestrial. The scientists are charged with talking with the aliens and proving to them that there is a good reason for preserving human life on this planet. Benson reasons that speaking with world leaders is not what Klaatu needs to do - they don't represent the human race well. She takes him to see Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese), who seems to introduce new lines of thinking to Klaatu - that humanity will change, but only at the moment it needs to.

The Day the Earth Stood Still, like most remakes of classic films, is not absolutely necessary, but director Scott Derrickson's retooling of the original is a fine popcorn film. I went in with the expectation that I'd see some good special effects and perhaps a thoughtful plot. I wasn't disappointed. Reeves is pitch perfect in the role of an extraterrestrial who holds the fate of the planet in his hands. He's as emotionless as Spock (perhaps more so). Thankfully he never says, "But my high-powered crystal computers have no circuitry to fathom that thing you call love," so I'm good. He really does seem more alien to our world here than in the original.

Jennifer Connelly does much of the emotional heavy lifting. She and her stepson, Jacob (Will and Jada's son Jaden Smith), do what they can without knowing that they're having an effect on Klaatu. Kathy Bates stars as the Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson. Bates plays her part well; she seems convinced by the scientists, yet she must answer to the President's demands for military solutions.

The extras include a digital copy and a separate Blu-ray with the original 1951 feature, but don't worry. If you already bought Robert Wise's original, that was not in vain - this one has none of the excellent extra features of that one, just the film and the option of subtitles. The Blu-ray presentation is excellent, and the special effects and sound really shinee. Great sci-fi, and not a bad addition to the collection!
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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