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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.

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.
  • Artistic License - Biology: "His life-support suit was similar to a placenta." "That makes sense, because a placenta sustains life."
  • 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]".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Product Placement: So blatant that it's distracting.
  • The Remake: Of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
  • Spheroid Dropship: In the place of the classic movie's Flying Saucer.
  • 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."
  • 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."


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)Science Fiction FilmsThe Deadly Spawn
The Dark KnightFilms of 2005 - 2009 Deadgirl
People FarmsImageSource/Live-Action FilmsGrey Goo

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