Now that the social problem picture is fashionable again, why not bring back the thematically aggressive sci-fi movies of yesteryear? We recently got a deeply confused take on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers; surely, it was only a matter of time before The Day the Earth Stood Still was dragged out of drydock.
Robert Wise’s cautionary tale – in which a flying saucer lands smack dab in the middle of the Mall in Washington D.C. and coughs up an alien named Klaatu, who threatens to reduce Earth to a "burned-out cinder" – is an adroit piece of nuclear war scaremongering; though it failed to ward off the Cuban Missile Crisis or the inexplicable popularity of The Fifth Dimension, the movie did help to legitimize the science-fiction genre as something more than B-movie fodder. I mean, the goddamn thing won an honorary Golden Globe for "Promoting International Understanding"; this is an award that was generally reserved for such unimpeachable classics as Vincent Sherman’s The Hasty Heart or Love is a Many-Splendored Thing!
The Day the Earth Stood Still is probably more flawed than I recall, but Michael Rennie was a very persuasive Klaatu, while Gort was… Gort! There’s just no arguing with Gort. There is, however, quibbling with the idea of Keanu Reeves as a believably superior Klaatu. I’m not a big Keanu basher at all, but if David Scarpa’s new screenplay is anything like Edmund H. North’s, there’s going to be a lot of oratin’. And oratin’ ain’t exactly Keanu’s strong suit.
I’m also not sold on director Scott Derrickson, who embarrassed himself with The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Basically, the only thing I like about this Fox production thus far is Keanu, only I don’t like him in this role. Not good. But I’ll change my tune if they pull Richard Kiel out of retirement to play Gort.
Variety further reports that the movie will update the original’s Cold War trappings while using "advances in visual effects." No shit. A source close to the production also informs me that the film may be shot in color.