The Day the Earth Stood Still - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Day the Earth Stood Still Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 21, 2014
An intelligent and challenging science-fiction classic that makes elegant allusions to Jesus Christ's life (even in the character's alias, Carpenter) and speaks directly to the audience in the end defending the importance of non-aggression in a time dominated by fear.
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2013
An interplanetary traveler visits Earth to dissuade humans' violence and paranoia.
As science fiction classics go, this one is up there among the best. Yes, it's moralistic, and its main character gets a little preachy at the end, but most good science fiction uses an extraordinary event to comment upon the ordinary, and The Day the Earth Stood Still's comment resonates today.
The performances are a little choppy and over-rehearsed. Michael Rennie sounds like he's reading his lines out of a phone book, and Patricia Neal went to damsel school and graduated with high honors. But all of it is tempered by that classic movie pace and a strong story.
Overall, science fiction when done well looks like this.
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2011
A surprisingly mature 50's sci-fi movie. Manages to get across its social messages without coming across as preachy. The cast does a great job with the material given to them, Michael Rennie is fabulous as Klaatu. The visuals are very good for the time and the film also contains some really gripping suspense scenes. A very touching sci-fi tale that still holds up to this day.
Super Reviewer
June 2, 2009
Gripping and suspenseful right from the start, this is a genre classic, a tale of a strange happening that keeps you in the dark most of the way. Why is this spaceman here? And what if the world doesn't hear him out? Intriguing and efficient in its storytelling. I'm not sure if it was a "B" movie in its day (probably), but much of what it was doing 60 years ago has since gone mainstream, meaning that this film's still easy to watch (or, cough, remake) nowadays. Essential viewing whether you're a sci-fi fan or not.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2010
A story about peace and preservation, Day is more than a tale of alien insurgence and sci-fi effects. At the time the United States was deep in the Cold War, much of the entertainment industry was being weeded for Communist sympathizers or spies, and tensions were mounting in the space race. This bold film not only explores the diverse nature of conflict and war between countries, but the Cold War itself, broaching the subject matter once the alien of Klaatu tries to arrange a meeting of the nation's world leaders to speak about Earth's fate. Instead of the option of portraying aliens as a race complicated by a desire to destroy all human life the aliens are without anger. We are introduced to the invading force as a single being, an alien named Klaatu who speaks perfect English and looks like any other red blooded American. Klaatu's planet is scientifically superior and is without wars, yet there is a threat to all human life based on our own wartime ambitions. Use of shadows and a theremin ridden score lace every scene with suspense, people becoming hysteric and suspicious of these aliens, coming to conclusions without knowing the facts, much like the Russians. There is also a robot named Gort, at first a benign sort of destructive force, there but periphery. As the story digresses it becomes clear that Gort is the end all be all to existence, and therefore becomes a threat, menacing with each of his heavy footfalls. Amazing for its time, Day was the first adult sci-fi, and it truly shows.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2011
Before there was Star Trek, Stars Wars and 2001, there was The Day The Earth Stood Still. A classic of Sci Fi and maybe a film that influenced the genre as well. The film is fairly simple, but yet so grand at the same time. The film focuses on aliens invading Earth, but its unlike nothing you've seen. Instead of destroying everything and murdering Earth population, the aliens have a message for Earthlings. They must live in peace or be destroyed by the Aliens. The Alien Ambassador Klaatu after scaring the Earths inhabitants by causing a power outage reveals their intentions and Earths population immediately ceases its hostilities. The Day The Earth Stood Still is a splendid film that proves that you don't need a elaborate story to create a thrilling, interesting film. The actors deliver strong performances and I especially enjoyed Michael Rennie's performance as Klaatu. The film has it flaws, but is nonetheless a classic of the genre. The film remains a staple of Sci Fi films after all these years and it's still very much entertaining. Despite the fact that it's not perfect, you can appreciate the simplistic nature of the film and how the simple story can actually make the film a lot more interesting. The Day The Earth Stood Still is a fine Sci Fi piece of cinema and remains one of the best of the genre. Definitely a memorable film in the genre.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2007
We have a sad propensity as a species, err, not to listen. So ingrained is this failing that we seem particularly not to listen most when it might serve us best to do so. This is the only film I know of ever to attempt to tackle - through the means of a fantastic story - that humiliatin' reality. Not just an entertaining diversion but one with a truth to ponder. And many still do not hear its message.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
I saw this a long time ago on TV, and I remember liking it, but I'd love to see it again.
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2010
While this is not the definitive Science Fiction movie or the greatest movie ever made, the questions and topics it covers are astounding. Itā??s got some great acting, a brilliant script and good directing. The visuals arenā??t timeless, but they serve their purpose and get the job done. Klaatu and Gort are characters that everyone will remember and carry such weight in what they stand for. Iā??m sure that in the 50ā??s this was incredibly surreal and frightening, the Cold War aspect is perfect and way ahead of the social feelings of the time. Itā??s a Sci-Fi classic and unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2009
"Klaatu barada nikto!"

Robert Wise is best remembered for his two Oscar winning films 'The Sound of Music' and 'West Side Story'. Both of 'em popular musicals. First of all, I gotta say that I haven't seen that many of his films but 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is my favourite one of 'em all.

'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is scifi at its best. At the same time a very good drama of the human society with an anti-war and anti-atom message. Wise has concentrated only on the main plot, which continues throughout the movie on an excellent pace. There are no unnecessary subplots or anything like that.

The actors are very good in their roles especially the lead, Michael Rennie as Klaatu. His portrayal is calm and intelligent and at the same time very compassionate. His character has heart for mankind but will they listen to him?

Another great part of the film is the score made by Bernard Herrmann, the genious behind the original scored of 'Citizen Kane', 'Vertigo', 'Psycho', 'North by Northwest', 'Cape Fear' and 'Taxi Driver'. A very melodic, unique and hypnotizing score. Sweet music for the ears!

'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is a true classic and highly recommended to all. But a warning to you all, do not even expect the same recommendations for its unnecessary 2008 remake starring Keanu Reeves. Why cant the filmmakers leave the classics alone? But do enjoy this original!
Super Reviewer
½ December 24, 2007
Dated by the looks, but the theme will always be relevant as long as human beings continue being the destructive creatures that we are.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2010
One of the top 10 sci-fi films of all time? Yeah, I think probably so. Michael Rennie gives a wonderful and nicely nuanced performanced as Klaatu, an alien who gomes to Earth with a protector robot named Gort to deliver an antiwar message to the people of Earth. This movie could have been totally campy, but it takes a serious approach, which I appreciate. It actually feels like a super extended episode of The Twilight Zone, which is a massive compliment. Surprisingly, the movie isn't overly preachy, and has a high entertainment factor. The music by Bernard Herrmann is simply magnificent, and is some of his best and most memorable work, which is saying quite a lot considering what other film scores he composed. Hands down this is one of the most important and influential films of the 1950s. Do yourself a favor and see it.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2008
I enjoyed this film. It was original and the effects were neat considering it was made in 1951. A good watch for anyone who likes the retro sci-fi of the 50s and beyond....
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2009
It contains a really good message and amazing sfx for the time. The acting was a bit crazy in some areas and some parts went quite fast sometimes it was hard to catch up. It seemed to finish very abruptly without really ending. Good for its time.
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2009
A true classic of the science fiction genre. A truly influencial and unforgettable gem that stands as one of the best of it's kind. A brilliantly entertaining and exhilerating film.
Super Reviewer
April 12, 2009
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a science fiction classic. It is not because of razzle dazzle effects, but because of the story and message.This 90 minute tale of aliens and peace isn't necessarily all that deep and explanatory, however it is interesting. This film doesn't believe in wasting time as it jumps right into the landing of a spacecraft. "Holy Mackerel! Call headquarters. Get the lieutenant." Those first lines say it all. Anyway, the movie immediately grabs interest, but leaves the answers to the more interesting questions to the end. This means the rest of the film is buildup for the conclusion.During the movie, the dialogue is written in a way for the viewer to learn a little about alien lifestyles, while the human characters on screen think it is just regular conversation. Pretty entertaining if you ask me.The effects are cheap looking, but it is decent for its time and the fact that this movie is black and white helps these effects look less ridiculous. Gort the robot is a little disappointing because it is easily noticeable that it is a person in a suit.A quick note on the sound effects and soundtrack. They are nicely done and play a big part in making this movie what it is.The casting is a plus. Michael Rennie, while a little bland at times, is a great Klaatu and Patricia Neal is just fantastic. There is just something about her voice that grabs my attention.The plot is fairly simple and the message is a little silly, but The Day the Earth Stood Still is an original science fiction film. "Klaatu barada nikto!"
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2007
Another unsubtle "classic." Sometimes I wonder if 1950's most vocal critics really just liked having things spelled out for them - and on that note, I wonder if films of a similar vein, such as Crash, will be viewed as "classics" fifty years from now. Perish the thought.

Anyway, for all the illumination this manages not to do, it's still a well-paced and occasionally thematically interesting piece of sci-fi. The special effects have aged incredibly poorly...Gort is an absolute embarrassment. What kind of robot wrinkles at the knees when he walks? If you can get past that, though, the movie is still entirely watchable, and downright fun at times.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2008
Endlessly engrossing landmark science fiction about an alien, Klaatu, that comes to Earth with a warning. He is compelled to pose as an ordinary human and takes refuge with a sympathetic widow and her son. These quiet scenes where he interacts with her family and son are quite effective. Intelligent script's dark outlook regarding human society, heavily influenced by the Cold War of the 1950s, is still relevant. Ambiguous ending could have been more powerful, however.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2008
A good movie. They did a lot with the little they had and by that I mean the special effects. The robot looked good for the time and the ship was cool but beyond that there wasn't anything else going on effects wise but the story was good enough that you didn't notice.
I enjoyed the fact that Klaatu got to move around the city and look around. I could have seen more of that actually.
All in all, it flows well and I like the fact that the message given to the people of earth wasn't a request. Live in peace or you will all die. It makes you wonder if the people of the earth in this story heeded the command or if they were soon wiped out as promised...
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2008
It's odd to think that fifty years from now there may only be a handful of movies released in 2004 that will be remembered at all. I don't care to venture any guesses as to what they may be, but it's easy to see why The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the ones from 1951 that remains a classic, while so many others sank into obscurity. The movie deals with a theme that was at the forefront of so many peoples' minds in the early 1950s, in America and the rest of the world, and that is the conflicts between many different nations, and more generally the tendency for humans to fight each other. It was released at the time of the Red Scare and so soon after World War II that international tensions were still high. Also odd is that if you switch the last two words in the title, why, it's not very frightening at all!

Okay, that made no sense, but I couldn't resist. My respect for the movie dimmed sharply when I saw that the alien was not only a man, but a good looking man who spoke perfect English, but then won back my respect completely when it took the time to explain that his culture had learned about humans through intercepting radio transmissions over many years. Unlikely, but it's an explanation, which is more than most science fiction films provide. Granted, not much time should be wasted on the science of science fiction, but in this case something had to be said. The alien didn't give may details as to his physical condition, but scientists hypothesized that since he so closely resembles a human, he must have a similar environment to our own on his planet.

Speaking of which, there is one thing about the science that I'm also curious about. At what stage were astronomical studies in the early 1950s? I'm wondering how far into space scientists were looking, because Carpenter, the alien, states with some grandeur that he has traveled 250 million miles to get to earth, which in astronomical terms is a tiny, tiny distance. Considering that the sun is 93 million miles from earth, this would mean that his planet is within our own solar system. And here's another little factoid ? Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun every year, as you know. Pluto, on the other hand, takes something like 248 years to revolve around the sun. That has nothing to do with the movie, but is an interesting digression, I should think.

I found the political backdrop to be one of the most interesting things about the movie, and not only because of what the political landscape was like at the time. It was interesting to watch a movie about aliens that so quickly and completely dissolved into a close examination of volatile human relations, and without ever becoming preachy or devolving into peace propaganda (oxymoron intended). I actually think that a large part of what made up for the lack of aliens in this alien movie was the validity that its argument has.

When Carpenter (who they stopped just short of simply naming Jesus) was greeted with the response that a meeting with all of the worlds leaders was impossible because of tensions between nations, he was genuinely surprised and saddened. He gives as his reason for visiting earth the fact that his civilization has noticed satellites being launched around the Earth's atmosphere and, since humans clearly are unable to get along, he was sent here to tell us to join them and live in peace or face our present course and face obliteration. Most importantly, if we chose the latter, they would be there to ensure that we would not export our violence to peaceful civilizations in space. The descending nature with which he speaks is truly revealing, it makes humans look childish because of our constant battling with one another.

This is also where the movie coincides with some of the themes that Jonathan Swift presented in Utopia, his novel upon which several failed civilizations have been attempted. They have created robots, which we seen in the Iron Man, to prevent the rise of violence in their society. The robots have tremendous power, which cannot be revoked, and at the first sign of violence they react swiftly against the aggressor, which results in a peaceful society. I'm also reminded of Gulliver's Travels, also by Jonathan Swift, particularly the section where Gulliver lives among the Houynymns which, interestingly enough, are talking horses with a remarkable ability to live at peace. When at one point Gulliver describes lying, which does not exist to the Houynymns, one of them responds incredulously with something like, "Why on Earth would one say something that isn't so?" Carpenter displays exactly the same shocked surprise when he learns of some of the awful characteristics of human beings, which seems to suggest that before we look for other civilized worlds in the galaxy, maybe we should work a little more on civilizing our own world.

The famous quote that I've quoted in my summary line is one of the many delights that this film presents, and Evil Dead fans will be thrilled to see the origins of those strange words that Ash had such a hard time speaking in Army of Darkness. The genre of science fiction has a much larger than average ratio of bad films to good ones, and I think the best ones are the ones that have a concrete connection to the real world, as The Day the Earth Stood Still obviously does. Given the political atmosphere here in the first month of 2005, it's obvious that humans have not taken much advice from this movie, but then again, as Arnold stated in Terminator 2, "It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."
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