It’s time to look at a really retro Sci-Fi film that would change the way we all looked at the genre…forever. It’s a title that you’ve probable heard many times even if you’ve never watched it before. It’s definitely a solid movie that has aged well. The monster is good and the effects actually aren’t half bad. It may have been the first big Sci-fi classic of the 50’s since it even came out before Godzilla.
The plot is relatively straight forward. A mysterious object shows up on the scanner and everyone starts to panic. It is moving too fast to be a ship and it’s unlikely that it’s a bomb. Either way, the army gets set to fend off whatever lands. A human walks out of it and reaches for his gun so the army sends him to the hospital. His pet Robot disarms a lot of the guards, but the human stops him. After a brief rest, the mysterious being reveals himself as an alien named Klaatu. Klaatu is here to wipe out the threat that the Earth poses to the universe. He’ll blow it up if necessary but he wants the world to abandon their space program otherwise. If they do that, then Earth can continue to exist. America knows that the Soviets won’t be on board with this so they prepare for the biggest fight yet!
Klaatu doesn’t actually state his mission for quite a while though. He wants to talk to everyone at once which isn’t really possible and you can’t help but feel bad for the army at times. Klaatu really doesn’t make it easy for them with his large demands and the guy should realize that humanity can’t unite on a whim. He basically states that their affairs don’t affect him in the slightest, but they kind of do. Ah well, in the meantime, Klaatu will hang out with a kid and learn more about human customs. He learns that not everyone is ruled by fear, just most of them.
Klaatu is very annoying, but hes a good character. At his core he seems to be a nice guy who really doesn’t want to destroy Earth. The fact that he came here at all supports that since he could have let Gort go on alone to destroy everything. He seems to possibly have some abilities as he escaped a hospital room quite easily. He also carries around sand that speeds up the healing process and a ray on his ship that can help to stall death. It’s all pretty useful when you’re in a hostile environment. He’s a nice guy and always stays polite to the rest of the cast. Here’s why he is annoying though.
Klaatu just can’t take a hint. He constantly asks the impossible and then ends up going with threats by the end anyway. He basically took it out on the scientist I felt and while he doesn’t fly off the handle, he’s a little unfair to the humans who are actually trying to help. He’s not supposed to be perfect though and those laws I can live with. He’s a fun lead and takes things in stride a lot better than most aliens. The rest of the cast isn’t quite important as they are merely around to help fill in the plot. The main kid gets a pretty large role as he isn’t yet old enough to fear Klaatu and instead enjoys all of the cool new inventions that he finds out. The media also does a good job of burying the story as per usual.
Helen is the main heroine and she is all right although a little slow to act. She is glad that KIlaatu gets along with her son so well at first, but then her friend shows up and tells her that it’s a bad idea. She ends up just listening to him even though the guy seemed very selfish and uncaring. Their romance falls through anyway as he chooses riches over her in the end. It’s hard to see how they ever gt together in the first place since the movie does its best to write him as a very unlikable guy. He never leaves a positive impression on you. Helen cuts it a little close when delivering her final message to Gort, but she gt the job done in the end so that worked out.
It’s always fun to see everyone talking a good game about the alien while sitting at home and drinking coffee. You probably wouldn’t see that much paranoia in real life if an actual alien showed up as here even the radio kept having people talk about how they needed to destroy it. It was all handled so casually which made it all the more fun. The few dissenting opinions were quickly dodged so everyone could be in unison.
Of course, while Klaatu may have barely been an alien, Gort certainly was one. He has a cool laser blast that can disintegrate whatever it touches. That makes him a very formidable threat in this film and he looks good throughout. He comes across as a very reliable friend that you can count on and it’s never personal with this guy. He just destroys people as part of his job. No apologies accepted and none given. It would have been neat if the film ended with him firing off one last giant energy blast to destroy the world, but I suppose that would have been rather dark right?
As expected, the writing is quite good. I can’t really think of any bad lines here and all of the characters looked pretty good. Even the unlikable ones were written well as they weren’t too exaggerated. They simply went into their roles and did a good job. The film’s pacing is also rather good. If I have one complaint, it’s that the middle of the film starts to clue you in on how nothing is really going to happen. After Klaatu is rejected a few times and goes to meet with the first scientist, you know that he’s doomed. There’s no way he’s going to get his audience because the film has already told us what his goal is. By that point you can figure that he’ll never get his audience but at least he’ll get to hurl a few last insults before leaving. It may not have been the most satisfying way to end the plot, but it was still an enjoyable ride throughout.
Overall, The Day The Earth Stood Still is a good film. It reminds us that paranoia is no good and you’re better off sticking to more productive things like making memes with good messages at the end. The climax/ending of the film may not have been all that satisfying, but the build up was good and it’s still a really good premise. The opening act was probably the best part of the film and it usually is in a film like this as I love the opening reactions from everyone. Klaatu will have to work on being more subtle about his alien knowledge if he ever returns for a sequel. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then you should definitely fix that as this is a must watch for Sci-Fi fans.