Director Scott Derrickson told the Comic Con press on Thursday that it was important that his ‘update’ of Robert Wise’s 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still had the same ‘soul’ as the original about an alien coming to the planet to observe the human species. The 2008 version stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu and Jennifer Connelly as Dr. Helen Benson.
“It was important to get that right,” said Derrickson. “Both films are about how humanity can’t help but destroy itself.”
Derrickson confessed he ‘checked in’ to the 1951 original periodically during filming, as did the cast in order to preserve the feel of the 57-year-old film.
Producer Erwin Stoff said that the ‘update’ is loyal on many levels including its screen presence and presentation.
“The original film was unbelievable eye candy for its time,” said Stoff. “It was big, kick-ass entertainment. Our movie is the same thing, just updated.”
Derrickson said his team was going for a good mix of action and character-driven moments in the film, and were not doing a remake just for the sake of a remake.
“This film still has moments of great intimacy,” he said. “If someone remade ‘Casablanca,’ I’d be upset. If someone remade ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ I wouldn’t understand it. There were really good reasons to remake this film.”
Derrickson referred to the messages of the original and how humanity is facing similar issues now.
Many of the character moments come between Connelly and Jaden Smith, who plays her step-son Jacob. There is big conflict there, according to Connelly and the viewer gets to see them struggle to resolve their differences against a backdrop of the first encounter.
“My character is a bit of a departure,” said Connelly. “Helen is evolved from the original. We spent a lot of time working on the relationship between Helen and Jacob.”
The Day the Earth Stood Still is due in theaters December 12th.