After giving his boss's assailants the red eye, Gort is finally
calmed down by a few well chosen words from the wounded Klaatu (Keanu
Reeves). Following the confrontation, Klaatu passes out and is hurried off
to a special facility set up for his treatment.
It turns out that Klaatu
is wearing a placenta suit, so that he can be born on Earth as a human.
(Does, he intend to become a U.S. citizen and run for president?) With both
the bullet and the placenta-goo removed we see a naked Keanu Reeves
strategically placed--for the sake of the PG-13 rating--on a table,
apparently in a coma. We're told he undergoes exponential growth as he
lays sleeping. (How does he eat?) As far as we can tell, exponential growth must be describing the growth of
his hair because his body doesn't look all that small to begin with.
he wakes up, Klaatu requests to immediately address world leaders at the UN. Much to his displeasure, he's turned down.
In the original 1951 movie this scene made sense. It would have
been difficult to inform all of humanity about the danger they faced without
the cooperation of world leaders. There was no Internet and television was
in its infancy. While radio was more mature, there were significant
political barriers to communication that would have prevented a message from
being flashed around the globe without being turned into propaganda. Besides
who would have believed it if a voice had come over the radio waves saying,
"hello, I'm a spaceman. Change your ways or die."
At the time the world's two opposing camps, the
communists and the capitalists, were continually on the verge of
mutual annihilation by nuclear war. To have passed the message to one group without simultaneously informing the other would have at best been
seen as favoritism. More likely, it would have been interpreted as trickery.
The 1951 message had to be communicated to world
leaders. According to the original Klaatu, the advanced extraterrestrial
cultures had banded together and created a race of robots that would destroy
any culture threatening the group's peaceful existence. Since
Earth's people now possessed nuclear capability and were beginning to venture
into space, they posed such a threat. If Earthlings did not change course,
they would eventually be annihilated by the robots. Since the control of
nuclear weapons as well as Earth's space exploration rested in the hands of
Earth's leaders, they alone could have made the necessary changes.
democratic countries, the average citizen had no real control over the possible use of nuclear weapons or the direction of
space exploration. Communicating directly with ordinary people around the
world would have had little immediate effect on the situation.
the current Klaatu's message that humanity is killing the Earth and
that they must stop or be immediately annihilated requires a radically different
approach. First, it requires clarification. How
does one kill the Earth and how should one desist? The hot topic of the day
is global warming and certainly it could have horrendous
long term consequences including the annihilation of many species of plants
and animals, but climate changes and mass extinctions have happened before
without killing the planet. Evidently, killing the Earth is more complex.
in 1951, rapid world-wide
communication would not just be easier; in 2008 it would be guaranteed. The landing
alone would be a major media event. To
effectively communicate, the 2008 Klaatu should go on television and not
just present his message but explain it. For one thing, he should explain
why beings from a different star system would travel though the vastness of
outer-space to deliver such a message when happenings on Earth pose no
threat to them. Are they planning an invasion?
While the requirements of the
1951 message could have been met only by the cooperation of the world
leaders, the requirements of the 2008 message (assuming it's aimed at
problems like global warming and the over-consumption of resources) could only be met by the
widespread cooperation of the world's people. Leaders attempting to make
changes without the widespread agreement of their citizens would face major
political upheaval. On the other hand, through lifestyle changes,
individuals could make significant improvements
without government mandates.
After failing to deliver his message and concluding that an appeal to humanity
is useless. Klaatu retreats to a swamp and activates yet another glowing
marble albeit of a lesser diameter. Even though there are no leaves on
nearby deciduous trees and the weather is clearly cold, the swamp is full of
swarming insects and frogs. These are attracted into the glowing marble and
carried aloft. We see similar scenes of glowing marbles around the world
attracting wild life and carrying it aloft to safety. In case
anyone misses the symbolism, Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson
(Kathy Bates) ponders aloud that the marbles are like Noah's arks. Gosh,
does this mean a Biblical-type judgment is on the way?
The Messianic symbolism
of an advanced being choosing to be born on Earth in human form in order to
bring a message of salvation is unmistakable, but the 2008 messenger is
certainly no Jesus. He's more like a remorseless executioner. When he's hooked to a polygraph and questioned, the 2008 Klaatu magically sends impulses back through the machine into the polygraph
operator and tortures him into revealing how to exit the building. Klaatu
makes his escape leaving the operator slumped over his table presumably
When later attacked by two helicopters, the current Klaatu's
outstretched palms emit red laser beams that magically hook onto the
copters. He then smash them together with a simple motion of his hands
killing all aboard in a fiery crash. We would point out that, aside from
reflections caused by dust, red lasers do not have a visible beam, however, these are clearly not lasers. They're some magical new device that has no
When a cop attempts to arrest him, the new Klaatu
coldly uses his magic powers to smash two cars together crushing the cop in
between, an action that makes young Bobby hysterical. In response,
Klaatu rubs some magic salve on his finger and sticks it in the cop's mouth
and places his hand on the squad car. Why yes, cars carry the life force of
humanity and it surges through Klaatu into the hapless cop while wildly sounding
the siren and flashing the blinky lights--the life blood of movie police car
chases. The cop revives. It's yet another remake-miracle. We wonder
why Klaatu bothers--he has already revealed that he's decided to annihilate
the human race and has set the process in motion--but, on second thought, it
does shut the kid up, so maybe Klaatu did have a good reason after all.
The 1951 movie also had the salve. We learned about it indirectly when one of the human characters expressed amazement that Klaatu had healed
his gunshot wound overnight by rubbing some cream on it. The current movie
avoids such senseless subtleties. Why leave anything to the imagination when
one can instead use a cheesy special effect? We first see the cream used in
the 2008 movie when Klaatu rubs a little on his stitched up wound, and presto, the wound
along with the stitches immediately disappear.
Meanwhile, Gort been
captured by the humans and taken to a secure underground facility to be
analyzed and deactivated. Of course he can't simply be named
Gort, as Klaatu called him in the 1951 movie, he has to be named by the
humans as GORT, an acronym for Genetically Organized Robotic Technology
--yet more remake-cleverness.
Gort obviously is only going to take just so
much experimentation and just when we think he's about to activate his red
eye he instead turns into a locust-like swarm of metal nanites. These fly through
the air and devour everything in sight: road signs, buildings, and
entire sports stadiums in the process. Apparently the nanites reproduce
almost instantaneously as they devour. We say locust-like because, while real
locusts devour all plant life in their path, they do so because plants
provide not just the building materials needed for their growth but even
more important the energy source that powers them and allows them to
reproduce, a cycle that takes months.
The now extinct
locusts used to periodically strip the landscape of foliage in the
western part of the United States. A swarm in 1874 covered an area larger than the
size of California and had an estimated weight of 27.5 million tons (25
billion kg). Just causing this swarm to take off and rise 10 meters in the
air would have required the energy equivalent of over 20,000 gallons of
gasoline (77,000 l). Expecting high-tech locusts to willfully expend the energy
required to destroy structures with no available food value as energy is ridiculous.
who's used a grinder to shape a piece of metal knows that a road sign
made of heavy sheet metal would take a substantial amount of energy to
disintegrate. Imagine the energy input required to disintegrate an entire
stadium or high rise, let alone the amount of energy required to produce
trillions of metal nanites and have them fly cross-country to wipe out not
just humanity but everything remotely associated with it. So, where is all
this energy coming from? Certainly, not out of the metal they consume.
Aside from the energy issues, what's going to
stop the nanites from chewing into chemical storage tanks, oil tankers,
nuclear power plants, and trees. If Earth is about to die from the
carelessness of humanity, wouldn't thousands of ecological disasters
scattered around the globe be the finishing blow? But, even more
unbelievable, just when the disaster is well under way Klaatu flip-flops.
In the 1951 movie, attempts to communicate with politicians also proved
worthless. Nevertheless, the problem was solved by contacting a famous
physicist who eventually assembled an international group of scientists that
heard Klaatu's message. The current movie starts to develop a similar
story line when Kaatu is brought to meet Prof. Jacob Barnhardt (John Cleese),
who has won the Nobel prize for--get this--biological altruism, never mind
that there is no Nobel prize in biology. However, the big meeting with
scientists is not to be. Young Bobby Benson (Jaden Smith) rats out Klaatu
and the authorities arrive.
From our perspective the
whiney quisling, young Bobby could have single handedly convinced an
alone a spaceman that humanity was annoying beyond redemption, but
apparently, with some help from his stepmother and Prof. Barnhardt, he convinces Klaatu
otherwise. Of course, redemption comes with a price tag: as Klaatu leaves
aboard his glowing marble, he shuts down the nanites and subsequently all the world's vehicles,
machinery, and electrical devices.
What compassion! Klaatu travels across
the vastness of outer space to save the planet by destroying humanity, has a
change of heart, and instead merely sends humanity back into the dark ages. Yes, the
shut-down could be just a harmless temporary warning as was the case in the
original movie, but certainly having a major
portion of the United States' people and structures eaten by nanites would
be neither harmless nor temporary.
If only the spacemen had been
more proactive. They could have avoided the whole debacle by shutting down the
current remake as a warning to others who are tempted to mindlessly exploit
an otherwise worthwhile original. Surely an advanced
all-powerful culture would not have stood still for such silliness.