Film: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

A 2008 remakenote  of the 1951 scifi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). It starred Keanu Reeves in the role of Klaatu and Jennifer Connelly as the female protagonist.

This film replaces the heavy-handed anti-war Space Whale Aesop in the original with an equally heavy-handed Green Aesop. By making the aliens essentially eco-terrorists, it also removes much of the moral ambiguity and impact of the aesop.


This film provides examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking Mandarin Chinese
  • Aliens Steal Cable: Used, but not thoroughly. Even though the aliens had been studying the Earth for a while, Klaatu had apparently never heard Bach before.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The aliens are committing genocide against a sentient race to protect a planet which is in no appreciable danger. Even if we wipe ourselves out life will go on, and CO2 and methane scrubbing bacteria will come in and clean up after us. This is instead of just giving us better technology. They had to get to our level of technology, to get to theirs.
    • Humans Are Bastards: It's been estimated that about 3 species become extinct every day because of our actions. Humanity is just one species. So if we're going to go out anyway, they don't want us taking any more species with us.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0. Gort, in the form of a Grey Goo, take out roughly a third of the US. Klaatu stops it with a pulse, presumably wiping out at least tens of thousands more relying on electricity. If the pulse is permanent, then it may be a Class 2.
  • Artistic License Biology: "His life-support suit was similar to a placenta." "That makes sense, because a placenta sustains life."
  • Attack Drone: The military uses two drones to attack Gort. Gort destroys the missiles with lasers and then takes control of the drones to destroy some nearby tanks.
  • Avengers Assemble: Gathering the team.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Presumably Klaatu's actions aren't as hypocritical to him as they are to us.
  • Broken Aesop: We're destroying the other species on our planet, and aliens think that's bad. Fine. So why does Helen's love for Jacob change Klaatu's mind? A mother's love for a child of her own species, while charming, doesn't really show anything except a desire to perpetuate her species. It'd be more valid if she showed love for an animal, perhaps something completely dissimilar to humans. Instead, The Power of Love conquers all.
  • The Cameo: Gurrak.
  • Creepy Monotone: Klaatu speaks with very little, if any emotional inflection in his voice, making his revelation of what's in store for humanity all the more chilling.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Klaatu's human form was grown within his placenta-like spacesuit to allow him to survive on Earth. He states that his true form "would only frighten [humans]".
  • Big Applesauce: The remake is set in New York, even though the original was set in Washington D.C.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Gort has a single glowing red eye behind the visor there's a good moment when one of the characters realises the eye is following him as he walks across the room.
  • Dull Surprise: Reeves plays an alien whose affect is chilly and inhuman, and is wonderfully natural in the part.
  • Faux Fluency: Keanu Reeves' Klaatu speaks to an elderly man (who is really an alien disguised in human form) in Mandarin Chinese. It's a valiant effort, but still pretty bad.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Klaatu is injured and taken to a human lab for treatment. The scientists cut away the placenta suit he's wearing, revealing a partially developed human form underneath. Once the suit is completely removed, he curls into a fetal position to finish the transformation into Keanu Reeves.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The US government decides Klaatu's robot buddy is Genetically Organized Robotic Technology—apparently, just having Klaatu say "Gort" at some point wasn't remakey enough.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never see anyone getting totally disintegrated by the metal insects that make up Gort. The worst we see is a technician get a nosebleed and then fall over dead.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Mandarin Chinese. Keanu Reeves tries really hard, but still doesn't get it quite right.
  • Grey Goo: How GORT was going to wipe out humanity.
  • Humanity on Trial: Klaatu had authority to judge Earth. In the original, Klaatu's mission parameters exclusively covered delivering the message. The message being that humanity could either join the galactic civilization or stay on Earth. If we stayed on Earth, then we would be left alone. But if we decided to join, then we would be expected to obey their rules, and be annihilated unless we gave up our warlike ways.
  • I Come in Peace: Klaatu steps out of his ship in the presence of roughly half the U.S. military, who are already a bit jumpy on account of the aforementioned spaceship. He wordlessly thrusts an alien device in their direction (actually trying to offer a gift), and somebody twitches and shoots him.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: The government lets Klaatu know that he doesn't have any rights they are under obligation to respect specifically because he (Klaatu) is not a human being regardless of what body he's wearing currently.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Klaatu visits Earth because our self-destructive nature is endangering the ecosystem of the Earth. Life is so rare in the universe that the alien community considers the biosphere of a planet far more valuable than any single product of that ecosystem. And so as punishment he tries to wipe out all life on the planet himself in order to "restart" the ecosystem, but this time without those pesky humans getting in the way.
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto: The line is spoken once, by Klaatu himself to stop his robot's defenses from destroying everything when he is shot by a nervous soldier. However he was in alien form at the time and the line is so garbled and distorted you really have to listen closely to discern the famous words.
  • Knight Templar: Klaatu.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: For certain values of "monster"
  • No Conservation of Energy: The space ship must have had some nice phlebotinum to decelerate that fast without creating enough waste heat to completely level the UN.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The movie ends with Klaatu causing his ship to emit a massive EMP wave that shuts down all the GORT nanites. It also shuts down every piece of technology on the planet, even things that should not be affected by EMP, such as analog watches. This means millions dead in hospitals, planes falling out of the sky, no way to get food or water to starving masses, etc. And billions of dead silicon-based nanites covering the landscape. Good luck making use of that land. Yes, Klaatu mentions our way of life will have to change. He just didn't mention most of us would die, while he happily flies off home, mission complete.
    • It is possible that was his intention. Reduce the human population, take away our ability to mess up our planet. Perhaps, as he may have reasoned, this might give us the chance to start over, be more green, especially with less mouths to feed.
  • Product Placement: So blatant that it's distracting.
  • The Remake: Of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
  • Restored My Faith in Humanity: Seeing Helen selflessly asking to spare her son's life, Klaatu comes to the conclusion that humans are worth saving after all.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The giant Sphere of Doom shines with a dirty green light.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The aliens are depicted as ecoterrorists, who want to wipe out human civilization and infrastructure to preserve the biosphere. Klaatu ended up with a change of heart, but before that his mission was not to warn anyone, but to skip straight to the EXTERMINATE-part.
  • Spheroid Dropship: In the place of the classic movie's Flying Saucer.
  • Starfish Aliens: Klaatu noted that he was assuming A Form You Are Comfortable With to interact with the humans. Upon being asked by the heroine what his true form was, he refused, stating, "It would only frighten you".
  • The Swarm: The metal insects that comprise Gort.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The military, law enforcement, and the government in general, though all of government in all of fiction is guilty of this trope, and it's not an unexpected reaction to aliens being suddenly real. Klaatu comes to Earth and reaches out his hand to the protagonists. Clearly, putting a bullet in him is the appropriate response. Only later do they realize he was able to shut down their defense network on a whim, and so they decide imprisoning and (implicitly) torturing him is a good idea. Klaatu's decision, after consulting a spy on Earth, is naturally that Humans Are the Real Monsters and have to go, thus the swarm of nanobots begins devouring every man-made object in its path. The military bombs it, only to see it grow larger. The Secretary of Defense at least grows a brain at this point, but the president orders even more bombing as if the opinion of his military adviser isn't worth considering.
    • Klatuu's people deserve extra stupidity points as well. Consider that their entire motivation for destroying humanity is to preserve the non-human portions of Earth's biosphere. They then set their nanotech-based weapon on "Dissolve Everything", including rocks and trees! In the immortal words of Robert Asprin, "Very inferior as superior beings go."
  • Trapped in Containment: A government agent does this to a scientist who is contaminated while investigating a caged alien artifact. Naturally he is less pleased when the contamination starts eating through the windows and his room is the next to be sealed and sacrificed.
  • Walk on Water: Klaatu shortly demonstrates this.
  • Wham Line: "It's not your planet."
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: Speaking about the end of the human race, Klaatu says "the pain will only be momentary."