Making the Grades
New York City's Central Park might as well have a bull's eye painted in the middle of its manicured acres. Attracting all sorts of movie monsters in the past, it's no surprise when yet another extraterrestrial on an expedition to Earth chooses to land his intergalactic orb on the heavily trafficked turf, literally blowing away many of the people enjoying an evening outing. When a humanoid figure emerges (played by Keanu Reeves), he's met with the classic "Welcome to our planet" greeting -- a bullet.
Wasting no time, the paranoid military, lead by the president's right hand woman Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates), packs him up and brings him to a top secret facility where the slug is removed. After a short recovery, he meets an international team of experts, each of whom has been abducted by the Americans for the express purpose of figuring out the intentions of the alien. Fortunately, one of them is a beautiful, biological scientist named Helen (Jennifer Connelly). Feeling empathy for the creature that identifies himself as Klaatu, she forms a bond of trust with him even after he claims his real appearance "would only scare you."
Not hanging out long enough to experience a hospital meal, Klaatu electrocutes his lie detector examiner, uses a high-pitched radio transmission to render dozens of security guards useless, and heads for the streets of the city. Eventually meeting up with Helen again, he finally takes the time to explain his mission, which -- of course -- puts the lives of every human being at risk.
Aside from the initial shooting and some additional sci-fi explosions, the most violent moment comes when a character runs a car into a person standing behind it. In another scene, small insects begin to eat a man's clothes and, presumably, the person wearing them. Profanities are nearly non-existent (only one mild expletive and a couple of terms of deity), and there is no sexual content, drinking or smoking.
Similar to the 1951 telling of this story (also titled The Day The Earth Stood Still), this remake implies a moral message Earthlings must learn if they hope to survive. Yet, even with the special effects of the 21st Century, the production from over 50 years ago feels more succinct and engaging. While the lack of content concerns may make this a film teens can experience, it's unfortunate these space visitors aren't as clear about our wrongs or how to right them. Hopefully, the next time the movie industry gets around to re-visioning this script (in another half-century or so), the Earth will be standing -- still.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Day The Earth Stood Still.
If you were an alien visiting our planet, what would you want to say? Who would you want to say it to? If you could talk to an extra-terrestrial being, what would you ask?
If, like Klaatu, you could observe our world from an unattached perspective, what recommendations for change would you have? What things would you praise?