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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BD REVIEW: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted April 19 2009 - 10:36 PM

Blu-ray Disc Review


Distributed by: 20th Century Fox (Searchlight)
Film Year: 2008
Film Length: 104 minutes
Genre: Drama

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 26.4MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50

  • English DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • French Dolby 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin
    Film Rating: PG-13

  • Release Date: April 07, 2009

    Rating: /

    Starring: Keanu Reeves (Klaatu), Jennifer Connelly (Dr. Helen Benson), Jaden Smith (Jacob Benson), John Cleese (Professor Barnhardt), John Hamm (Michael Granier), Kathy Bates (SecDef Regina Jackson)

    Screenplay by: David Scarpa
    Directed by: Scott Derrickson

    12.12.08 is the Day the Earth Stood Still

    Not bringing home best picture – or best anything – is the remake of the 1951 science-fiction classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still. A special group of scientists are called upon by the government when a mysterious and giant sphere heads towards earth at a devastating speed. Instead of impacting, it lands in Central Park, Manhattan. From this sphere comes the alien Klaatu, who is then “accidentally” shot by military personnel and then rushed to save his life. But the Secretary of Defence, Regina Jackson, won’t let him leave the facility fearing the annihilation of the human race. But Dr. Benson decides to help this alien be set free and integrates him into society for a while where the decision to exterminate or save the human race is made.

    This remake, no matter how good the intentions of the creators were, does not get a passing grade. Picking it apart is too easy; from sets that look much too staged and fake (opening Arctic sequence), to poor character establishment, development, and acting (relationship between Dr. Benson and her lethargic son doesn’t connect), and the failure for the film to instil fear and urgency to the audience (because that was the intention), this movie is a flop. I couldn’t get past the lifeless character of Klaatu, who had far more personality in 1951 (why not make this 2009 more slick and witty rather than dull and doom?) Kathy Bates’ character (and her made-for-TV acting) is poorly written as she, the one acting with most power, seems to have the most fear. But she comes across like a catty girl on a school playground bullying around the other girls, but doing it gently enough to not get noticed by the teachers. Just pick apart the staging at the 34 minute mark in chapter 9 when discussing what to do with Klaatu. The whole scene is awkward. Plus, any movie that starts off with top secret agents swooping in to take a person away for unknown reasons is just plain Hollywood Corn. It’s the same old, same old. These agents try to appear all tough with their stale performances and wires to their ears. It’s more laughable than serious. C’mon guys, get creative. Did you honestly think your movie was original over others?

    Forced trailers are X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Quantum of Solace, Australia, and Taken.

    VIDEO QUALITY: 4.5/5

    The film looks about as good as any other new major film. A small, but unnecessary amount of edge enhancement is noticed from time to time spoiling an otherwise perfectly good looking transfer. The finished film, as represented on this video release, is a great looking BD release with the expected resolution bump over DVD, and without the compression and technological artefacts of the format. The Day the Earth Stood Still has a colour palette that sits comfortably with this viewer; it’s never objectionably too cold, and easy to accept based on the grim storytelling. This film is best viewed in the dark since many important scenes take place in the dark of night and will demand the necessary contrast ability from your viewing environment. Shadow detail is excellent. You won’t miss a bit of the action.

    AUDIO QUALITY: 4.5/5

    The 5.1 soundtrack, encoded with DTS-HDMA, is a bit bright on the top end and heavy in the bottom without re-EQ. Since we have no idea which soundtracks are re-EQ’d for home releases, I always need to use my best judgement (so hopefully I don’t re-EQ a soundtrack already re-EQ’d for home playback!) Bass is still heavy in the LFE giving the constant low rumble and frequency down-sweeps throughout. There is some low frequency action in the main channels, but not as much as one would expect. The dialogue is noticeably ADR and not always spacious, although a bit of on set dialogue can be distinguished. The rest of the soundtrack (music/effects) is energized in the main channels and active throughout. Nano-alien effects, helicopter pans, and explosive action all play out destructively as the end of the world nears. This soundtrack can play loud but not irritatingly so. Crank ‘er up!

    TACTILE FUN!!: 3/5

    Using a bass shaker enhances the viewing experience. It might even offset some of the disappointment for the way the story is presented. Even more, the BD has D-Box motion code embedded. I’m glad Fox still supports D-Box because the technology is bound to reach the masses someday and the software will be ready when that happens. All one needs to do is look in their current collection!


  • in-movie features - this disc has a set of features accessible using the BD player’s coloured buttons on the remote. While watching the film, the green button allows access to the writer’s commentary by David Scarpa. The blue button allows access to BonusView “making of” material that includes pre-viz, special FX footage, and photos, of Klaatu’s Unseen Artifacts. For example, you can view the original opening for the film in its pre-viz state. Note that this feature is only available on BonusView-enabled players and cannot be accessed separately. The yellow button lets the viewer access storyboards which can also be viewed separately. Also included separately is concept art and production photos. There is no material for the red button.

  • Build Your Own Gort - since Gort went through an exhaustive design process, why not build your own based on their designs?
  • deleted scenes (HD, 2.0, 1:56) – there are three of them that are probably last minute cuts since they are in a “finished” state. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but still good to see. I imagine there is probably more on the cutting room floor…
  • Re-Imagining The Day (HD, 30:06) – featuring producer, director, cast, historian, discussing the message of the original film (which I believe they think is somewhat dated and I disagree), and how they re-imagined the film for today’s age – a more violent interpretation of Klaatu’s character.
  • Unleashing Gort (HD, 13:52) – character design of Gort for 2009.
  • Watching the Skies: The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life (HD, 23:08) – a very interesting feature with scientists discussing the topic of other life, but on a scientific/biological level rather than a science-fiction aliens description. What a job they have…I admire their work on this topic.
  • The Day the Earth Was Green (HD, 14:04) – an environmental “green” outlook on the film
  • Bombay Liquid Dance - (SD 4:3 LBX, 3:00) – compilation of shots taken around Bombay put to music
  • Wow! The Theatrical Trailer (HD) is also included. That’s nice to see since that hasn’t been an extra Fox has included on past BD releases
  • European Theatrical Trailer (SD 16:9)

    To top all of these features off with a cherry, Fox has also wisely included the BD of the original 1951 classic of The Day the Earth Stood Still, which I previously reviewed here What a great way to get a new generation of people into classic films! If it’s included it will be watched, otherwise it probably go by unnoticed in the years ahead. Crack out those Theremins!

    Lastly, this three disc set includes a digital copy of the film for portable devices. The movie industry sure knows how to survive in the digital age. Good job, Fox. The music industry to learn from you guys.

    IN THE END...

    The film is a disappointment but the Blu-ray disc makes great demo material. Good video (minus the edge enhancement) and great sound is what this Blu-ray experience is all about, even if the film remake falls short of expectations.

    Michael Osadciw
    April 20, 2009.

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    Michael Osadciw

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    #2 of 7 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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    Posted April 20 2009 - 02:14 AM

    Are there no Theremins in this version? Booo!!!!!

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    #3 of 7 ONLINE   Carlo Medina

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    Posted April 20 2009 - 06:32 AM

    So basically this would be worth the purchase for the original film on BD and you'd have this P.O.S. remake as a "bonus" feature? Posted Image

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    #4 of 7 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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    Posted April 20 2009 - 07:18 AM

    I thought the original version included here didn't have any extras, which the standalone version did have. Don't know if it's true or not.
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    #5 of 7 OFFLINE   PaulDA



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    Posted April 20 2009 - 08:13 AM

    The stand alone original extras are NOT included in this release--you get the movie only. I know I'm in the minority, but A) I don't think the original is as good as people think it is (though I think it is a fine film and better than the remake) and B) I don't think the remake is as bad as people are saying. I think the remake suffers from going up against a cult favourite that is more fondly remembered than it deserves--and that is a recipe for disappointment no matter what the quality of the remake might be. I also think the remake is average, at best, and would certainly not make claims of "greatness" it does not deserve. However, I find one criticism of the remake (and praise for the original) especially flawed (in my opinion, of course). I prefer the "new" Klaatu to the "old" one as a representation of "alienness". Reeves' approach to the role makes more sense. Rennie is too suave and "human" in his personality to be as believably alien. The original does many more things correctly than the remake--the story is more tightly plotted, for one thing, and the relationship between mother and son is more convincing. Klaatu's choice to explore humanity rather than having it thrust upon him as in the remake is also a better approach to the story, though it would have been more compelling if the original Klaatu had had more difficulty interacting with people (as I suspect would have been the case if the "new" Klaatu had chosen to go "exploring humanity"). In the end, I found the original (I had never seen it until I picked up this release) to be very good, but not exceptional. As for the remake, I found it a mildly entertaining sci-fi movie that raised a number of interesting points but did not explore them in a sufficient manner (to my disappointment--and Cleese was criminally underused, incidentally), but not nearly as bad as I expected from the reviews (pro and amateur) I'd read. DVD Talk has a review of the Blu-ray that hews pretty closely to what I think of the remake (which I came across after watching the remake but before watching the original). The remake may not be all that good, but it's far from the worst thing I've seen in the last six months, much less ever (as some have commented elsewhere).
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    #6 of 7 OFFLINE   LarryH


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    Posted April 20 2009 - 02:40 PM

    Sadly, I agree almost totally with the posted review. This was another heartless Hollywood bombast the only excuse for which seems to be showing how elaborate CG effects can be (though not necessarily how good). That being said, I did end up buying it for some irrational reason. At least it should be an HD showpiece.

    #7 of 7 OFFLINE   Brent M

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    Posted April 20 2009 - 04:19 PM

    Bloody awful movie IMHO. I hate being preached to about the environment to begin with, but having it done by Keanu just made it that much worse. I went in expecting an action movie and ended up being bored to tears. Thank goodness I watched this at a friend's house and didn't buy it myself. Posted Image
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