This movie could have been called The Day the Earth Still…Out of Boredom.
The 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic example of a “why bother?” remake. The 1951 original is widely regarded as one of the best science-fiction films ever made, so there was absolutely nowhere for a remake to go but down. And the remakers lived down to expectations.
In both versions, an alien spacecraft lands on Earth with a message for the natives. In the original, Klaatu (Michael Rennie) warned that the warlike human race needed to change its ways since learning to split the atom or risk annihilation by extraterrestrial enforcers worried about mankind’s rambunctiousness. In the 2008 version, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) was apparently intent on informing our world’s leaders that the human race is a pox upon the Earth, and since only a handful of planets in the cosmos are capable of supporting complex life, the interstellar community is unwilling to let mankind squander this one.
According to director Scott Derrickson, this film is supposed to carry an environmental message, but Klaatu himself points out that Earth has reached the tipping point and can no longer be saved, so even if everyone started driving hybrids, it would do no good. So apparently the message is, go green now, before the aliens get here. However, in the movie, the plot change renders Klaatu entirely moot. Surely his glowing globes could have been dispatched to collect and preserve samples of non-human life without cloning Keanu? Surely Gort could have been activated from orbit to eliminate all traces of humanity. Klaatu is a complete waste of time and effort. Klaatu came to protect the Earth from humanity, so why bother with trying to address mankind’s leaders? Is he some kind of interstellar sadist?