The Day the Earth Stood Still

  • Review Date: December 12, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi remake has big effects but no real power.
  • Review Date: December 12, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 103 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

An alien visitor judges mankind's stewardship of the planet Earth and finds us wanting -- resulting in a plan to eradicate human life from the planet. Discussion of loss and death; discussion of the human capacity for change in the face of disaster.

Positive role models

The alien is unlikable; Helen is a better role model, but her character isn't really developed well.


Military forces shoot an alien visitor, with blood spatter; later, people bleed from wounds created by microscopic nano-bots that devour everything in their path. Missile strikes and bombs are rained down on indestructible alien robots and ships, with some humans in the path of the blast. A police officer is struck by a car; several supporting characters are knocked out or suffer pain as an effect of some high-pitched noise the alien technology emits.

Not applicable

Hardly any -- just one "hell" and a couple of expressions along the lines of "oh my god."


A good bit of product placement -- the Windows logo is clearly visible at several points, and one scene takes place at a McDonald's. The NASA logo is also visible. Several shots of cityscapes, where advertising for companies like Coca-Cola and The New York Giants can be seen.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Two people driving drink beers.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama/thriller (which is a remake of a 1950s classic that most kids probably haven't seen) has lots of urban destruction, as well as some scenes of science-fiction-style violence perpetrated against people. There's some blood and some graphic visuals, such as when a man with broken legs is healed through super-science and his broken legs are seen straightening out. There's also a notable amount of product placement, particularly for Windows and McDonald's. On a positive note, there's basically nothing in the way of swearing or sex, and the movie offers thought-provoking discussion about humanity's relationship with Earth's ecology.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, astrobiologist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is summoned to a government staging area late at night under cover of secrecy -- because a massive object of unknown origin is headed right for Manhattan. But the object isn't an asteroid or meteor; it's a sphere capable of course correction and deceleration -- a ship of some kind. After a humanoid figure and a giant robotic machine leave the craft, a shot rings out, and the humanoid figure falls. Emerging from a cocoon of pasty goo, the visitor looks human; his name is Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), and after escaping from custody, he enlists Dr. Benson's help in his mission: to determine whether humankind should be destroyed so that the planet Earth might survive.

Is it any good?


Remaking a 1951 genre classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still might have better visions and visuals than the low-budget original, but it lacks the heart and sense of wonder the first film had -- it's as if the people behind this film figured they could get by on special effects alone. Reeves plays the alien visitor as an unlikable, unrelenting functionary who's doing what he must: "The decision is made; the process has begun." Connelly's character tries to get him to change his mind, while also fitting in some relationship management with her distant, moody stepson (Jaden Smith); as Benson pleads and Klaatu stays impassive, the film throws plenty of big-screen spectacle at us, but it never really connects the high-tech tricks with any heart.

Director John Derrickson has previously worked on lower-budget horror films and thrillers, and he shows a capable hand with the bigger budget -- but he doesn't show as much promise with the film's bigger ideas. The Day the Earth Stood Still wants to move our minds and quicken our pulses, but it does a far better job of the latter than the former; for all of the film's discussion of how mankind is destroying the Earth, there's precious little mention of what we're doing wrong or what we could do better. It as if the filmmakers were afraid of upsetting anyone ... while they proceeded to destroy New York and show us the end result of their effects budget. In the attempt to avoid saying anything controversial, The Day the Earth Stood Still winds up not saying much of anything at all.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's central theme: What will it take for humans to deal with issues like pollution, global warming, overpopulation, and other consequences of our industrial-technological lifestyle? Is it the media's job to point out these issues?

  • Do you think most mainstream movies have an issue-based agenda? Why or why not?

  • Families who've seen the original can also discuss the differences

  • between the two films. How have filmmaking styles and technologies

  • changed in the past 50 years, and what era-specific real-world concerns

  • do the different films speak to?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 12, 2008
DVD release date:April 7, 2009
Cast:Jaden Smith, Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves
Director:Scott Derrickson
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sci-fi disaster images and violence

This review of The Day the Earth Stood Still was written by

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  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Kid, 12 years old April 13, 2014

Too quick, pretty violent and disappointing

The story is pretty much a remake of the 1956 film (which I haven't seen.) But the SFX are worth watching alone, not for the story - that type movie. While the action sequences are pretty good and the bloody visuals will satisfy gore-hounds (picking skin off of an alien, blood splattering from gunshots), I couldn't imagine this would deserve watching. The first 50 minutes feel like 5 minutes pretty much, and the finale is especially heavy on redeeming special effects. The characters aren't too developed that well, the violence includes high-pitched electrocution, bloody shooting, but they make good use of surround sound. Other than that, meh. Sex includes a naked Keanu Reeves where he bares his butt (ladies take note, he also did it in the Matrix.) Language is barely anything, and this movie is less-than-memorable. Connelly is good, but her character isn't. Bug-like creatures devour things, possibly including humans (I can't remember too much, but it's just black dust and ash.) It felt like disappointing, so-called "science-fiction", and that 20th Century Fox could certainly do better. You know what, if you watch Avatar, (with the blue people), you'll totally think this movie is bad. Thankyou for reading.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written bySomeoneYouDon'tKnow September 30, 2012

A wonderfully made remake

This movie is a solid remake of the 1950's classic, with a great plot, some awesome special effects, and a message that rings true to the original film. The story goes into greater depth than the original film, all of which is wonderfully paced and fairly easy to follow. Keanu Reeves gives an excellent performance as the monotonous alien-man, who chilled my spine every time he spoke in that flat, deep voice. Jennifer Connelly is magnetic in her role as the soft-spoken mother figure, and she has some good chemistry with Jaden Smith, portraying her son. The huge "GORT" robot looks awesome, and the little insects inside him are awesome. The big flaw of this film however, is the ending; while the ending of the original was not very satisfying either, I expected a little more from this. Oh, and (SPOILER ALERT) the part where "the earth stands still" doesn't come until the very end, for like half a second, so that was a bit strange. But aside from that, this film is very good, with some great visuals, great acting, and a solid story.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 April 23, 2012

sometimes boring sci-fi thriller has loads of blood

this film is low on action, often slow moving, and sometimes dissapointing. when there is action, it is graphic and intense. there is a plentiful amount of blood, splattering, spurting, and gushing from wounds. there are explosions and military action. a cloud and nanobots eat through and destroy buildings and cities.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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