The Day the Earth Stood Still
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Day the Earth Stood Still can be found here.

When an alien spacecraft appears to be on a trajectory path to Central Park on Manhattan Island, astrobiologist Dr Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and other eminent scientists are summoned to a military facility under the command of U.S. Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates). The spaceship lands, releasing a giant robot and a humanlike alien who calls himself Klaatu (Keanu Reeves). Klaatu is immediately shot and taken to a hospital. With Dr Benson's help, Klaatu manages to escape, but she is uncertain whether his seemingly peaceful mission will result in him saving or destroying the Earth.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) is a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), adapted for the 2008 screen by American screenwriter David Scarpa. The story line is based on a short story titled Farewell to the Master by American science fiction writer Harry Bates [1900-1981]. It was first published in the October 1940 issue of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction.

In 1928, a bearded mountain climber (Keanu Reeves) is drawn to a point in the Karakoram Mountains (India) where he finds and touches an alien sphere. He passes out, awakens, and has a scar on his hand. The aliens have taken a sample of his DNA so that they can clone and return to Earth one of their own in the mountain climber's body (which is why Klaatu ends up looking like Keanu Reeves).

Yes. Whereas the original version of Gort was an 8 foot silver robot, the new Gort is considerably taller (approximately 30 feet tall) and is composed of a vast swarm of "nanomachines", microscopic insect-like devices that self-replicate through the consumption of matter (and possibly energy as the swarm of nanomachines grow in size when fired upon by rockets) and are capable of disintegrating any object or substance they touch. When the need arises, Gort can transform from a solid humanoid form to a huge cloud, which then swarms around targets and devours them. In addition to this mode of attack, Gort still possesses his trademark eye-beam to destroy obstacles, and to also manipulate attacking fighter drones by hacking into their electronic systems via projected beams. Gort does not have an official name in the remake but the US military give him the name GORT which is an acronym of Genetically Organized Robotic Technology. Director Scott Derrickson explained "It was intentional. I certainly took a lot of time to explore other possibilities. It wasn't just a foregone conclusion in my mind that we would be sticking to the original. I tried looking at a lot of different possibilities, worked on a lot of different ideas with artists and just always a nagging sense that there was something right about the way the original, that there was something about this alien entity choosing a human form or being in a human form, that had value even by modern standards, not by 1950 standards. I also am such a fan of the original film. You have to also just have some respect for Gort. Gort is Gort. There's no question what we designed pays homage to the original."

After seeing Dr Barnhardt and becoming separated, Helen meets up again with Klaatu and Jacob in the cemetery where Jacob's father is buried. Jacob is devastated when he learns that Klaatu cannot raise his father from the dead. Jacob breaks down crying in Helen's arms, as Klaatu watches. "There's another side to you," he admits. "I feel it now." As the all-consuming nanobot locusts spread across Manhattan, Helen pleads with Klaatu to reverse the destruction process, and he agrees to try. They return to the city, racing against time to reach the sphere in Central Park. To their surprise, the pursuing military suddenly backs down, letting them through. Helen wonders why and soon has her answer when the park starts to blow up around them. Their car in shambles, they try to make it the rest of the way on foot, but they are swarmed by the nanobots and are forced to take refuge under a footbridge. Suddenly Jacob's nose starts to bleed and he collapses. Klaatu explains that the nanobots are inside of him and he is dying. Then it starts to happen to Helen, too. Helen pleads with Klaatu to help Jacob, so Klaatu forces the nanobots out of both Jacob's and Helen's bodies and into his own. "Your professor was right," Klaatu says. "At the precipice, we change." He then walks out into the cloud of nanobots and fights to reach the sphere as they tear at his body. Once Klaatu is inside the sphere, the nanobots begin to drop like dead locusts. Lights begun going off all over the world. All vehicles stop running, oil wells stop drilling. In a way, Earth has basically been hit by a global electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The people of Earth are saved, but at a price. In the final scene, Helen and Jacob stand together watching as the sphere takes to the skies.

In the 1951 movie, the message was basically that the peoples of Earth had to stop using their recently-developed atomic power for weapons and aggression or they would suffer reprisals from extraterrestrial police. The warning in the remake is more ecological and is to stop poisoning the Earth by way of pollution, toxic waste, and other harmful contaminants created by humanity as it makes scientific "progress". Klaatu explains that conditions on Earth are difficult to find on other worlds and that his race cannot allow the planet (and the other lifeforms existing here) to be suffer because of humanity's careless tendencies. Director Scott Derrickson explained, "I think that this film in some ways is an attempt to address a number of issues that are among the most pressing issues for the human race. The original being a Cold War film was addressing what was clearly the greatest threat for the human race at that time...mutual nuclear destruction, and that's not the most pressing threat that we face now. It's also man vs. man. We are destroying each other as well. Our country's at war right now. There is certainly the issue being addressed in the movie of our treatment of one another on the planet."

Fairly closely, although there are some changes. In both versions, Helen Benson is a widow with a young son. However in the 1951 movie, Helen (Patricia Neal) works as a secretary for the Department of Commerce near where Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe) works. Helen Benson in this movie is an astrobiologist who teaches at Princeton University and who studied under Nobel Prize winning Dr Karl Thomas Barnhardt (John Cleese). Helen's son in this version is actually her stepson and is called Jacob (Jaden Smith). Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) is known as "Klaatu" throughout the movie, instead of disguising himself as Mr Carpenter, as did Michael Rennie's character in the first movie. The robot Gort is also in the remake, although he is considerably taller and is now a more complex creation that is composed of a vast swarm of "nanomachines", microscopic insect-like devices that self-replicate through the consumption of matter (and possibly energy as the swarm of nanomachines grow in size when fired upon by rockets) and are capable of disintegrating any object or substance they touch. When the need arises, Gort can transform from a solid humanoid form to a huge cloud, which then swarms around targets and devours them. In addition to this mode of attack, Gort still possesses his trademark eye-beam to destroy obstacles, and to also manipulate attacking fighter drones by hacking into their electronic systems via projected beams. Klaatu's spaceship is considerably different in this version. In the original, the spaceship was a straight-forward flying saucer type craft that lands in President's Park in Washington, DC. In this version, the spaceship is a sphere composed of swirling biological matter and it lands in Central Park in New York. Other than these changes and a lot more action, the plot is still very similar. Klaatu and Gort land in Central Park, Klaatu is wounded and taken to a hospital, but he manages to escape and take shelter under the wing of Helen Benson. Klaatu is refused permission to address the United Nations by the US Secretary of Defense, so Helen takes him to see Professor Barnhardt. Many of the classic scenes are still there, e.g., Klaatu changing the equation on Professor Barnhardt's blackboard, the loss of energy around the world, visiting the grave of the boy's father, etc. Only the purpose for Klaatu's mission and the ending have been radically changed.

As in the 1951 movie, there are differences between this movie and the original short story. In the story, Gort's name is Gnut, the famous phrase Klaatu barada nikto is absent, and the character of Helen Benson does not exist. The end of the short story has a twist that was not brought out in either movies.

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