I remember when this 2008 film came out, as usual I missed it and I have only recently been able to watch it. There are many similarities between this modern remake and the original film, as I remember I think this received poor reviews and many were critical of it but I can’t see why, to me it’s an honest and modern remake.
Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, the extra terrestrial visitor made to look like an adventurer that chanced to find one of the alien glowing spheres some seventy years or so before. His arrival is a mixed blessing because at first his spacecraft is mistaken for a meteor on a collision course with Earth. Only at the last minute does his craft slow to land.
Upon his arrival the military are instantly trying show their might and they end up injuring Klaatu. It’s only when a surgeon is called in that his injuries are taken care of and a fleshy out is removed to reveal Klaatu’s human disguise. Helen Benson (played by Jennifer Conelly) helps to nurse him back and forms a bond with Klaatu. The instantly suspicious government assume that the human race is in danger and try in vain to question Klaatu.
Klaatu is a far more powerful and dangerous character in this modern re-make, in the original he seemed to have no real power. But this modern version saw him Frying brains with no weapons, disabling an entire security for with an ear piercing sound and destroying attack helicopters. What was a little unclear was his intended mission, it seemed ultimately to destroy the Earth, there seemed no real in between
Klaatu’s huge robot Gort was also far more menacing, much larger than the original and appearing to be made of a single mass of material with no seams at all. When he was being examined the menacing eye tracked his captors and it’s then that his menacing nature really showed.
In the original film Klaatu’s stated his Gort could destroy the Earth, but we never found out how. In this film we did, when they tried to drill into Gort he started splitting into billions of tiny nano bots which went about eating anything in their path and reproducing, laying waste to whole cities it was a truly ingenious twist on this tale.
Helen helped Klaatu’s to escape and avoid being captured, she also helped him find the places he need to go and more importantly the side to the human race that needed tobe saved. Helen was really the human emotion in the story in contrast to Klaatu’s very emotionless character. While this is needed, it would be a very dry story without Helen and her son.
Played by Jayden Smith, Helen’s son struggled with the stranger and showed the conflict within humanity, it’s struggle between the primitive survival instinct and the compassionate nature that is often so lacking. As often with Hollywood there was a human message in this and while it was clear it wasn’t too corny, although it has to be said at every point when the military show up and start blasting away it is hard not to groan at the lack of intelligence shown.
In many ways this film did what the original couldn’t, it filled in the gaps and completed the plot. Sure their are differencesto the 1950’s version and in a way whichever way it went the film woukd have been slated. Imagine if it was the same as the primal with just some updated effects, that would have been disappointing. To me this film showed how to re-make a classic well, make sure you have plenty of the old ingredients with a little modern spice to make sure it’s fresh and up to date. Did this film deserve criticism, no way! If the people that saw it thought that they were going to see something either orignal or the same then whydid they bother? It was never going to be either.