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The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)
Director: Scott Derrickson

review by Mike Philbin

Based on the classic 1951 film about mysterious humanoid alien Klaatu who comes to visit earth to deliver some very bad news, his enormous robot buddy Gort by his side...

It's probably easy to say this remake is as worthy as the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers remake and The Fly remake and The Thing remake... why? Well, enough time has passed since the original was made. This is always a bonus with a remake, the fact that much social and political and now global water has gone under the bridge. In fact, in this day and age, that bridge is looking a little delicate as if anything could tip mankind back into the dark ages of feudal lawlessness or anarchic freedom-fighting.

The message here is, once again, mankind's a hornet's nest of a race that should be eradicated by its galactic neighbours... but should it really? Isn't there a glimmer of hope in the rich and varied tapestry of individuals on this planet to make it worth saving?

First off, let's examine some of the blatantly allegorical contemporary props that set this definitively in the 2000s rather than the 1950s.

GENERATED GLOBAL COLLAPSE:
It would be hard to put it across in a more obvious manner. Even metal is falling apart due to our mismanagement of our Earth's resources.

ILLUMINATI SYMBOLISM:
In the 1951 film, some mechanical (okay, it was glowing a bit) white metal flying saucer lands on the White House lawn. In this update, a 'ball of light', appears from space. It scrolls down behind buildings like some sinister military/industrial force behind a curtain. When it lands, it's like some cloud-glowing planet, reinforcing the global warming propaganda they're teaching our kids in all our schools. Even in the latest Dan Brown film Angels & Demons, there's constant reference to a ball of light disintegrating whole cities.

flying saucer, 1951 ball of light, 2008

POLICE STATE INDOCTRINATION:
Police state - no cameras, no phones. In the dead of night, scientists are taken away - no rights. Sound weapons, disabling - microwave weapons. Hackers - from the darkness of space, disabling our defences. Alien fake skin - it's worth readers researching Project Bluebeam. Stock market crash - that's already seen to be due to the credit crunch. Food riots - we're far too dependant on the state already. Propaganda and general brainwashing - right is wrong, up is down. Nobel prize winners (Al Gore, for example) shown as ethical and altruistic, and not at all connected with the financial abuse of their research by the global elite.

MICROSOFT MULTI-TOUCH:
Microsoft's multi-touch tabletop interface even makes an appearance, with photo scaling and moving - is a blatant show of money, those things cost thousands per table. This is worse than seeing an Apple Mac interfacing with the mainframe of the Independence Day mothership.

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS:
1) The alien orb arrives at 3 x 10^7 m/s
2) The alien orb arrives in 78 minutes
3) Seventy years of Chinese surveillance
What is the reason for this (seemingly arbitrary) exactness of data recording? What does this film think it's trying to tell us, the viewer?

MATRIX-LEGACY ALTER-WORLD:
Matrix-like Mr Smiths all shot in subdued light, a rival shadowy presence to the beings of light who are our galactic neighbours. It's just about politics and we still can't tell who the good guys are. They're here to kill us, Klaatu's people, though they have the power to save us, to hand-hold us into our technological future.

PRESIDENT'S AIDE: "This is our planet."
KLAATU: "No it's not."

HEY, THAT'S MY CAR:
There are also elements of such films as The Bourne Identity or Collateral, where one overpowering agent takes control of a car and drags a civilian passenger along for the ride.

INSEMINATION SIDE-VISUAL:
That's what happens at fertilisation time, when Klaatu touches one of the spheres, a peristaltic shock courses across the spherical egg when the sperm penetrates the protein surface setting up a chemical locking mechanism so that (generally) only one sperm impregnates one egg. So, what's it doing in this film? Such a waste of symbolism and computing power...

Klaatu's big ball nano GORT swarm

GORT MADE OF NANO-TECHNOLOGY:
Are they showing us how technology and, specifically, biotechnology is a very dangerous business (well it is if you're one of the very many micro-biologists who've been killed since 11th September 2001). Gort being made of a pestilence of all-devouring nano-technology makes sense in light of his amazing rescale since the 1951 film. You'd have to have enough volume of those hungry little mites to gobble up the world.

BIBLICAL IMAGERY:
The rising of Lazarus from the dead - this was in the original film but it was very well done in the film, the only problem was there was no point in it at all. Noah's ark and dream prophecies make an appearance - it's just all too insidious.

CORPORATE UFO MIND-WARPING:
Approaching helicopters in a triangle formation - like many reports of UFOs have shown in recently-government-released UFO footage.

WORLD GOVERNMENT:
Notice how all the UFO-driving aliens in these films land in the United States. We're being brainwashed into believing that 'if aliens really existed, they'd land on the White House lawn'. And that's what we expect; it's an American blockbuster, right? We expect that one day the White House will be the world government. Don't we?

Are they really talking about 'a planet on the precipice of political change'? Is this what Obama's change is all about: a destruction of industry, and reversion to more basic lifestyles - for the majority of us; a life of luxury for them - the rulers?

It's an audacious (some would say brazenly cruel) film that ends with central New York covered in inches-deep dust the way the streets of 11th September 2001 were covered in such grey dust after but it ends on a positive note, "Mankind must find solutions to its own tyranny."

In light of continued corporate propaganda from mainstream media, what is the real purpose of this vacuous, confusing film?
Day the Earth Stood Still - poster

DTESS remake on blu-ray

Read another review of -
Day The Earth Stood Still



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