Ok. This is a difficult one. I love the original film. Yes it's black and white and a bit dated and the acting is a bit wooden, but the direction by the great Robert Wise and the story is a classic, and then there's GORT, one of the best robot creations in sci-fi and the classic line "Klaatu barada nikto".
So was it ripe for a remake? In my opinion "yes" as the production values of today could work wonders for the storyline. If they had `remade' it that is! And that is where it goes wrong. This isn't a bad film, it's actually better than I expected after some of the negative reviews I'd read, but it could have been a `Great' film, a modern classic, but it missed the core of the story by a mile and then some!
In the original Michael Rennie is Klaatu who comes to Earth to warn us of impending doom and is shot at by typically overzealous American soldiers. In this version Keanu Reeves is Klaatu but now he's a DNA clone of someone who was killed in the 1920s on a mountain? Go figure. Whoever came up with that concept I don't really know but they must have been on drugs!
Then we have the spaceship. A huge `flying saucer' in the original with an interior, controls, knobs, switches, the whole kit and caboodle, but a huge giant glowing sphere in this version which appears to have no controls, no interior, nothing which tells you it can travel through space or navigate or land anywhere!
But the biggest travesty is GORT. He looks great. Much taller than in the original, a truly GIANT robot. But what does he do in this? Hardly anything is the answer. And when he does decide to kick some human butt he suddenly turns into a swarm of metal insects which proceed to devour everything in its wake. Why? I mean, wouldn't it have been more impressive and a damn sight more exciting and cinematic to have watched a GIANT robot come to life and start blasting everything the army could send at it? The character of GORT was totally wasted, and yet that is one of the most memorable things and images from the original movie, so where is the logic in throwing that away?
It's not all bad though. Keanu Reeves is very good, but I've always considered him to be an underrated actor anyway. He's different and suits this part perfectly. Jennifer Connelly is also good as the woman scientist who befriends and tries to help him. The less said about the kid though the better.
So in summary a good film which could have been a great one if the Director had studied the original more closely and made it into more of a homage than the story he decided to produce.