I must have watched the 1951 Robert Wise sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" 10 times as a child. It was one of my all time favorite movies. So as soon as the first ad for the remake flashed on TV, I was hooked. Last weekend I forked over my $6 for the Sunday morning matinee and settled into sci-fi Paradise. My day turned out to involve a double feature -- the remake in the morning at the theater, followed by the original later that day at home.
Despite the critics' sneers, I found that the remake held its own. It was fast-paced, exciting, and visually breathtaking and, of course, starred Keanu Reeves (and Jennifer Connelly). I expected the original black and white version to look and seem woefully dated, but it too holds up even today.
I had joked ahead of time about Keanu being perfect for the role of an emotionless alien -- and he was. But when watching the original, I noticed that Michael Rennie as an alien was even more robotic than Keanu -- he never wavered from his threatening message about the earth's possible fate. Keanu the Alien actually showed some emotion as he began to like and understand the humans.
The original was based on a novella by sci-fi writer Harry Bates and was a reaction to the atomic bomb. The remake plays out against the crises of global warming and permanent war. Both, of course, feature an alien sent to warn Man of imminent destruction in the absence of profound lifestyle changes.
So grit your teeth, prepare to be preached to just a little, and watch the remake. By the way, one of the first structures to bite the dust is a football stadium.