Two generations away from the 1951 version of the, The Day the Earth Stood Still, speculations have gathered of what “secret government forces” had input to its making and promotion. Almost in the center of these rumors a new version is borne, different only in very slight particulars from the old. In both, earth-bound humans are threatened on the basis of a presumed inability to change and divert impending global disaster that is due to inherent traits to the species, not to systemic problems of their governing.

The evidence this narrowness is again applied amounts to a crucial redundant flaw almost bordering on critical omission. As indeed seen in the storylines of both versions individuals, as often as not, exceed social order. But this recent version bases its retrieve of a second chance on the lame acknowledgement of some “crisis initiative” noticed in mankind (don’t make us laugh) instead of a simple act of mercy, as found in the earlier version…and which is far more credible.

Although it seems stylish among critics to downplay the performance of Keanu Reeves as, Klaatu, the actuality is Mr. Reeves is exactly for whom the role is best served. His typical lack of emoting reflects best on an assumed alien countenance responsible for dispassionately deciding the fate of a world. Did viewers want him to fall in love with the alluring Dr. Helen Benson  (played by the lovely Jennifer Connelly) or say, “oops, you all need to be nicer.”?

But the film is interesting and actually does nail down our problem about opposition to change, individual trait or systemic evil. And one likes to think we’re deserving of second chances although we might just have come, if the truth be known, way passed # two, even closer, perhaps to #200.

Special effects, concepts and screenwriting is on par with just about everything else blockbustering today….sadly, hardly more exceptional. Not to 2008 what the first version was to 1951…by a long shot. It might have been, just by having the courage it took to make leaps.

Mildly recommended and safe for the little ones.