Friday, January 18, 2008

REVIEW: The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Year: 1951
Director: Robert Wise
Starring: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Rated G

I will be honest here in telling you that I have never heard of this film. When this film released, I was still in my mother's stomach. It was only recently that I checked this film out. Every time I went to my local Target and browsed around the DVD sections, I always saw this film there. Just by the name of the film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" caught my interest. So then I went back home and did some research and found out that this film was one of the greatest science fiction movies at the time of its release. Me being a huge SCI-FI fan, decided to check this film out and see if it still stood the test of time.

Plot Outline:
An alien by the name of Klaatu (Michael Rennie) comes down to earth to deliver a message about the violence in our world. After being assumed dangerous by the people of Earth and wounded at the very beginning, his attempts to get together a meeting with all world leaders to tell his message fails. He then escapes his hospital room to discover more about the ways we live and how to get his message out to the entire world. He ends up learning about our society by going under the fake name, Carpenter and living with a small family which includes Helen Benson (Patricia Neal), Bobby Benson (Billy Gray) and two other household members. He then understands the people of Earth and tries to get his message out before its too late.

I didn't expect a 57 year old science fiction movie like this to really be good. The film has an interesting plot that goes very well with the story. I found myself liking the film more and more each second of the film. Its got very lovable characters that you will admire and pay strict attention too. I will admit that the film does have some moments in the story where certain types of people that expect something to happen every minute might get alittle bored or tired out. There were also a few scenes in the movie that at the time of its release might have been passed by some people, but now in today's world it shows up and doesn't go so well. I also cant lie that this film's story also resembles the story of Christ. As great as this movie is, its ending was kind of a let down. While its certainly not bad, but it doesn't really provide you an answer to this question that has been set from the beginning of the film. This movie was considered one of the best science fiction movies at the time and I cant disagree on it. Its amazing that a film this old can still be great even after other great SCI-FI films like Blade Runner or The Matrix.

The cast of the film is staggering. Its got many memorable characters that you will fall in love with and adore. Michael Rennie plays the alien Klaatu and hes very charming with a very sophisticated look. He looks sharp and cool at the same time that it makes him perfect for the part. Patricia Neal plays the darling girl Helen Benson and she has some great moments in the film where she shines with her great personality. At first I didn't really enjoy Billy Gray as Bobby Benson simply because he got alittle annoying at the start of the film, but I now think he did a great job in his role because his character is suppose to be that way. Hes suppose to be the kid who asks questions and is also looking for a friend to be there with him. Lock Martin plays the giant robot Gort, but I cant really comment on him because his character doesn't say a word through out the entire film.

For a 57 year old film, the visuals don't really stack up against other films that have come forth in today's world, but whats weird is that the effects in The Day the Earth Stood Still hold up quite well. It looks pretty darn good for a film of its age. Their wasn't too much grain that I thought interrupted my experience with the film. It looks pretty clean for the most part. The space ship and even Gort look really nice and sharp. The film is completely in black and white with no color anywhere to be seen. I would imagine a film this old wasn't made with color in mind. This isn't a problem though because the film looks great with no color. I found the experience a whole lot better with just black and white colors.

The film has a great soundtrack that goes well with the film. The music is composed by Bernard Herrmann who I think did a fantastic job at it. The music gives you the feeling that this film really is a science fiction movie with its scary, but imaginative soundtrack. The music really gives this film some legs because it makes certain scenes feel really unique and gives you that strange SCI-FI atmosphere that many films today have. The film doesn't feature a whole lot of bass considering its age, but it does have alittle. The little we have is more than needed since this is a heavy dialogue driven film. I found the soundtrack to be really great and made the film that much more better.

The Day the Earth Stood Still was a great film at the time of its release and it still holds up quite well in 2008. The story although has problems listed above is still great with an interesting plot. The cast is great and lovable with many serious performances by Michael Rennie. The special effects still look pretty good and the film has a great soundtrack that really gives the film some legs. I very much loved this movie and thought it was a great movie for its time. I found this film to be quite good and would highly recommend it to people who love the science fiction genre.

Grade: B+

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