Live From Hall H: The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still at Comic-Con 2008

The tension was thick this morning in San Diego as the sun belted those brave enough to tackle the line outside the infamous Hall H here at the San Diego Convention Center. Upon arrival, we found the line wrapping around the building and literally heading out to sea. Alright, maybe not literally out to sea, but if you can imagine the most literal possible meaning to “the line was a mile long”, then you’ve got the right idea.

We begin our Comic-Con 2008 journey with a trip to the infamous Hall H for the presentation from 20th Century Fox. If you will remember, they backed out of last year’s Con, but have come back this year to show us footage from both Max Payne and The Day the Earth Stood Still. For our coverage, we begin with the panel for The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The panel began, in true Con fashion, with a major delay. One of the large curtains that line the walls in the vast hall fell down on some unsuspecting, early arriving Twilighters (yes, that panel is up after Fox), so the maintenance crew had to come in and save the day. Thirty minutes later, we were underway with Fox.

It all began, as they always do, with a warning from Comic-Con programming director Eddie Ibrahim that people should not try to record the stuff on screen. And while we don’t foresee that working, we are interested in the footage.

“Kaatu Barada Nikto” came a familiar voice from the 1951 classic, then on stage came star Keanu Reeves. Joining him was co-star Jennifer Connelly, director Scott Derrickson and producer Erwin Stoff. The conversation began by talking about Scott Derrickson’s connection with Robert Wise, director of the original film. “If you want to make genre films,” Wise once told Derrickson during a lunch while he was a film student. “Make your first film a horror film. That will show what you can do.” From there, Derrickson went on to make The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and ultimately has been given the chance to re-envision Wise’s classic.

The Day the Earth Stood Still at Comic-Con 2008“There are a lot of movies where we see the aliens,” explained Erwin Stoff. “But there are not a lot of movies where we see ourselves through the eyes of the aliens.”

With that, they rolled the first clip. As you may remember, the first trailer for the film showed an interrogation scene that involved Keanu as the classic character Klaatu. The clip that they showed here was an extended version, which showed off the power of Klaatu. Needless to say, the guy doesn’t have trouble getting free from his captors. The footage was interesting, as it introduces us to the fact that Klaatu has power that goes beyond human understanding.

After showing off the clip, the panel went back to talking about Robert Wise’s film and how they wanted to pay homage to it. One thing that will be different from the 1951 film is the depth of exploration in the relationship between Helen (Jennifer Connelly) and her son (Jayden Smith).

They then played a short clip that showed an interaction between Keanu as Klaatu and Jaden Smith’s character, which showed a little bit of the change for Klaatu from being an alien, looking down at humanity, to becoming a little more like a human. As Derrickson explained, the film is “in some ways the story about an alien becoming human.”

The conversation then turned to Gort. “There is definitely Gort in the movie,” explained Derrickson, mentioning rumors that had popped up a while back on the web. He then talked about going through hundreds of designs that ranged from being close to the original Gort to a more human-like form. As he explained, Gort is still a work in progress with the folks at WETA.

Then, the bigger clip. It began with footage from the first trailer, then rolled into a more escalated series of scenes that showed the vessels that Klaatu has brought to Earth instead of the space ships in the 1951 version. Basically, there are several orbs that come down to Earth and potentially cause destruction unlike anything we can imagine. At the end of the clip we got a look at Gort, still a shadow amidst a bright light. As they explained before, Gort is still a work in progress but he’s looking good so far.

Overall, I am even more interested in The Day the Earth Stood Still than I was before, having seen some footage. As much as Keanu Reeves as Klaatu worries me, I think that director Scott Derrickson has entered into this project with the right idea — pay homage to Robert Wise’s film and its fans, but make it something that will be relevant to today’s audiences. And thanks to some special Comic-Con footage, it looks like he is on his way to accomplishing that.

The Day the Earth Stood Still at Comic-Con 2008

Stay tuned all this week as we bring you coverage from Comic-Con International. Not only will we be roaming the floor in search of love, but we will have the latest news Live from Hall H, great interviews with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and random convention shenanigans, courtesy of our Comic-Con Attack Squad! To keep tabs on all of the happenings, just head over to our Comic-Con 2008 Homepage.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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