A renowned scientist (Jennifer Connelly) finds herself face to face with an alien called Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), who has traveled across the universe to warn of an impending global crisis. She quickly discovers the deadly ramifications of Klaatu's claim that he is "a friend to the Earth." Now she must find a way to convince the entity who was sent to destroy us that mankind is worth saving - but it may be too late.
Impressive special effects are the key selling point for this big-budget remake of Robert Wise's classic 1951 science fiction parable about an alien visitor who delivers a chilling ultimatum to the leaders of the world. Keanu Reeves, who seemed ideal at first blush but ultimately turns into another case of miscasting, steps in for Michael Rennie as intergalactic watchdog Klaatu, who with his robot Gort (now super-sized), promises global destruction unless the powers that be unless drastic measures are undertaken regarding the Earth's environmental issues (or so one assumes). Jennifer Connelly is largely wasted in the Patricia Neal role of scientist/single mom assigned to study Klaatu, who offers a somewhat chilly father figure to her son (a grating Jaden Smith). Connelly isn't the only fine actor in the cast left standing idle while director Scott Derrickson's effects team constructs eye-popping scenes of wholesale mayhem; Mad Men
's Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates, John Cleese and Rob Knepper are all adrift in the aimless script by David Scarpa, which never even fully explains why Klaatu is so bent on blowing us to smithereens. That lack of focus, as well as the B-movie quality of the dialogue (say what you will about the effects in the Wise version, but the film was polished from top to bottom), all help to cement what science fiction fans have been muttering about the film since its inception; the original film needed no high-tech updating --Paul Gaita
Stills from The Day the Earth Stood Still (Click for larger image)