Empire first learned about 20th Century Fox’s planned remake of the brilliant, influential and undeniably classic sci-fi flick, The Day The Earth Stood Still, when a director chum of ours – who shall remain nameless but who has some form in that arena – told us he had been offered it. Immediately, we tried to dissuade him – “no good will come of it”, we cried, doing our best impression of a scared villager in a Hammer horror movie. “Careful now! Down with this sort of thing!” we added, making the sign of the cross, and shutting the windows of our tavern (ok, maybe we’ve taken the metaphor too far).
Anyway, our director friend passed on the project, and it all went a bit quiet. Rather foolishly, we assumed that Fox had learned the error of their ways, and let the idea die.
Until, that is, now, when it’s just been announced that Scott Derrickson – director of last year’s The Exorcism Of Emily Rose – going where our anonymous source didn’t dare, and is indeed remaking The Day The Earth Stood Still.
The tale of a benign alien, named Klaatu, who comes to Earth – specifically, Washington DC - to warn Man of the error of his ways, to wit: that its increasingly war-like nature is placing the planet in danger of being blown up by a kind of intergalactic UN, the title of the movie refers to what happens when mankind, naturally, decides to ignore the alien’s advice and attack him and his giant killer robot, Gort (which is disarmed by the immortal password, “Klaatu Barada Nikto!”, a phrase that has cropped up in countless places since, from Army Of Darkness to Return Of The Jedi, where it gave name to three characters on Jabba’s sail barge). Wounded and hiding out with a local family, the alien decides to show the world the full extent of his powers (all for the greater good, you understand)…
Now, of course, there have been good remakes of classic movies – Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead springs to mind, and we’re sure that you, dear reader, will think of a dozen more. But there are some movies that should just be left alone, that are almost impossible to improve upon – and Robert Wise’s 1951 classic is one such movie.
Having said that, Empire can see that a modern remake of the movie has some relevance, given what we’re currently doing not just to each other on a military level, but what we’re doing to the planet, from an environmental perspective. A new version of The Day The Earth Stood Still has the potential to be a politically smart, Al Gore-friendly cautionary tale with, of course, the by-now de rigeur ‘improvement’ in special effects.
Also, Derrickson is a decent director, as he showed with Emily Rose – one of the more original horror films of the last few years – but despite all the positives, Empire can’t help but feel that our director friend did the right thing. If only there was some way to yell ‘Klaatu Barada Nikto!’ at Fox executives before it's too late. Anyway, the movie has been scheduled for release on May 9, 2008...