Day the Earth Stood Still

Brian's Top 10 Movies

It's very hard to pick only 10 movies so I went with the top 10 but at the moment that I would pick:

  1. star-wars-yoda-lightsaberStar Wars all of them:  Big fan of the setting, story, and myth.
  2. The Matrix Collection: The great way this series gets one to give a second look at the systems that they exist in, how to bend the rules and evolve.
  3. Transformers: (80's animated and the live action one)  Giant Robots Fun
  4. Harry Potter films:  what a wonderful story arc, the books are better
  5. Star Trek in particular Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  7. Serenity
  8. V for Vendetta:  the political exploration and the exploration of the power of symbolism and symbols.
  9. Planet of the Apes: the 1968 version it's a great social exploration.
  10. Frank Herbert's Dune: kind of a fudge because it aired on TV but I watch all of them as a long movie

What are your top 10 movies at this moment?

See John The Rogue Demon Hunter’s top 10 picks here

DVD Releases: April 7th, 2009

Out this week we have  2 DVDs to feature: Day the Earth Stood Still 2008, The Tale of Despereaux,

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Project: Shadow Manifesto

Project: Shadow Logo To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing.  The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions.  We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.

In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow.  The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies.  The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.

We are fans.

We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.

At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show.  A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love.  Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.

The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.

What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie?  Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?

Perception.  Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky.  I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual.  The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.

The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.

From Storytellers to Copyright

Problem: People are natural storytellers.  We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.

Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.

Every story we tell is not original.  We like to tell the same stories over and over.  We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular.  It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.

Problem: The only constant in the world is change.

Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.

Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.

Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.

The Cultural Cycle

Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten.

Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy?  Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf?  The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.

Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.

This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive.  Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken.

  • Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
  • Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
  • Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and  songs.
  • Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.

These solutions are are not enough.  Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright.  As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories.  The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.

The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar

Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers.  Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.

Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love.  We must stand between the darkness and the light:  This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.

Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.

Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks

Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem.  Others have lobbied for copyright reform.  Neither of these is a solution to the problems.

Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress.  While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.

Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.

The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form.  Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.

I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.

Progressive Speculative Fiction

  • Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
  • Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
  • Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.

What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?

Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.

How can disaster fiction be progressive?

Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills.  If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy.  The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.

How can horror be progressive?

Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice.  If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror.  If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare.  There is nothing scary about it.  If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession.  If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.

What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?

There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:

Just to name a few.


  • Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.

Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year.  Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative.  It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.

They know what the fans want.  We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us.  Myths are hard to make.  It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology.  Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor.  Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:

  • imitation space opera
  • knock-off cyberpunk
  • repackaging of the rings
  • martial arts boom-boom
  • torture porn

They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.

We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.

We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

That is why we are here.  Project:  Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.”  We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.

But we cannot do it alone!

Fandom Strikes Back

  • Solution:  We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
  • Solution:  We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
  • Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
  • Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
  • Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.

Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.

Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.

Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.

Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.

Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths.  Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups. 

Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.

Now is your time!  Copy this Manifesto.  Print it, post it, email it, share it!  Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.


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Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still

This is a group review of The Day The Earth Stood Still.  Brian, Emerian, and I each watched the movie and developed separate opinions about the film. As Progressive Speculative Fiction movie:

Overall Rating: 10

I am a huge fan of the original, in fact, it is my favorite SF movie.  I was surprised how well they pulled off the remake.

Brian: It’s not very often that I get a chance to write a review of a remake movie where I can give my praises for a job well done.  As the final credits began to roll I knew with great joy in my heart they gave me this opportunity with The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008).  This movie was a brilliant remake of the classic film, an excellent example of what speculative fiction should be, and poorly promoted film that will unfortunately get it many bad reviews.

I must give my kudos! to Director Scott Derrikson when I read about how he tried to update the movie yet stay true to it’s core message I was very skeptical but he nailed this one and deserves our accolades for a job well done!  You can read about his approach in Exploring: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008).

Emerian: I have never seen the original 1951 version of this movie.  I have to assume it had a better ending than this one.  When seeing the title The Day The Earth Stood Still I have to wonder if it meant the moment that the credits rolled and everyone in the theater stared motionless at the screen thinking, "Huh?"

Even Roger Ebert, who I usually agree with about SF movies didn’t like the movie.  He like many of the reviewers missed the point of the movie.  He like most reviewers took the movie as little more than a film with an environmental message, when it is so much more.

The Day The Earth Stood still is an “Idea as Hero” story.  The idea behind the story is evolution, and whether or not humankind is capable of evolving before we destroy the all life on earth.

jaden-smith-the-day-the-earth-stood-still Throughout the film, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) witnesses the senseless violence humans perpetrate on each other.  The vehicle for the idea is Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith) who through out the movie is engrossed in violent video games and who constantly  argues that the aliens need to be killed.

Our violence to ourselves, the other animals, and to the world itself is why Klaatu has been sent to earth to preserve a life sustaining world from us.

This message is made clearer when Klaatu and Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) are talking.  Barnhardt argues that people can change, but Klaatu is unmoved.  He believes that humankind is too lazy and mired in its ways to even try to change.  That is the real question.  What would it take for people to be willing to change?

Brian: Speculative Fiction is supposed to ask a “what if.”  To be even better it should also maintain the tradition of making a social commentary of some sort and aspire to humankind’s better nature.  Star Wars and Star Trek do this brilliantly it is why those franchises inspire it’s fans to be better then what they originally are.  The Day The Earth Stood Still classic also did this with it’s warning about humans violent cold war nature in the 50’s.  With great pleasure the 2008 remake also does this by asking what if we are not alone in the universe and how would advanced alien societies see humankind’s behavior.  The social commentary is that they would view us as a violent, delinquent child who treats each other as poorly as we treat our surrounding environment.

Unfortunately this movie was promoted poorly.  Their promotion lead the public to expect an action packed, aliens invade earth and attack us.  Kind of like the modern War of the Worlds movie.  The actual movie is a much more thoughtful exploration of human nature, with most of the tension occurring in the mind rather than visually.  There are some great effects and action sequences but not nearly as much as what should have been.  If only they had described the movie like this:

The Day The Earth Stood Still is about how human society lives in a solipsistic state of mind where they treat each other as poorly as they treat their environment and give into their terrible and violent nature.  The collection of other alien societies decide that they must save the earth from the humans since there are so few planets in the galaxy that can support complex life forms.  Now Helen Benson and her son Jacob must convince Klaatu that humans do have the will to change but only after they are brought to the precipice by a tragedy.

Minor Spoilers between the lines:

Emerian: This film was well cast and I think the majority of the film was worth seeing, but the ending was flat and made little sense.  Keanu played a good alien with his emotionless responses.  We also get to see him naked and covered with mucus again, which is always a strange but somehow addictive thing to watch.  Jennifer Connelly played an adequate smart lady.  Jaden Smith showed his ability to stand with his adult counterparts and not be overshadowed in the least.  It was also a pleasant surprise to see John Cleese and Kathy Bates.

As far as visuals, the orbs are rather interesting and the fly shaped nanobots that go about devouring the land are worth the price of your theater ticket.  However, I would advise waiting to see it on DVD.

The ending was a big let down and not just to me.  As we sat, wondering what had gone wrong, I heard comments from exiting audience members that ranged from unconvincing to anticlimactic.

The end of the movie was a call to action.  A challenge to the audience.  I will deal with the ending of the movie more in a separate post.

So who is right about this movie?

Was it good or anticlimactic?  Honestly, we post are.  This film is like music in a particular genre.  If you like this sort of movie, you will love it.  If you don’t, this movie is not for you.

I have read many reviews, and in the majority of them, the reviewers either rejected the message, missed the message, or thought the film should not have been updated.

Roger Ebert approached the movie with certain preconceptions that kept him from seeing the message of the movie.  It is clear from his review that he did not want to like the movie, and mocked Klaatu for having to learn the lesson of the film.

I would not recommend this movie to everyone, but I would say that there is a couple simple tests to see if you will like this movie:

  1. Did you understand and enjoy the ending of Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
  2. Did you enjoy Grave of the Fireflies?
  3. Did you enjoy the work of Akira Kurosawa?
  4. Have you ever enjoyed a book by James Joyce?

The fourth one is most important.  Joyce believed that a good story should just hold up its object to be beheld by the audience neither pushing them towards or away from anything, and Kurosawa said that a film should have an immaculate reality, allowing the story to just happen without and over abundance of exposition.

For more info on The Day The Earth Stood Still: Theater or Renter: December 2008

Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ


  1. Brilliant remake of the original movie:
  2. Maintains Immaculate Reality
  3. It’s true art where they bring us to static arrest and hold us there.
  4. the message was not so much about ecological concerns but about societies solipsistic attitude (behaving like a spoiled little child with a me me me attitude) leading them to treat their environment as badly as they treat each other.
  5. The great balance between the warning about societies current state and the hope of our capability of change.
  6. Gort was really well done including a little joke about how he got his name.
  7. The Ending:  it shows the solution but does not show nor tell the audience that the solution happened it just ends leaving that conclusion up to the audience.
  8. The acting was well done.
  9. John Cleese was brilliant in his role, I wish they would have advertised this fact.
  10. Keanu Reeves did a good job playing Klaatu

Dislikes / Concerns

  1. the ending: I would have liked to hear Klatu give the ultimatum “It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.”  Unfortunately if he had given this then there would have been complaints about it being cliché
  2. The intro could have done without the first five minutes and just started with the present day.  problems of the well written story.
  3. The promotion of this film was poorly done, they advertised an action aliens bringing about the end of the world film when in reality this was a thoughtful Science Fiction social commentary film where a lot of the tension is cerebral instead of visual.
  4. I could not hear the other classic line “Klaatu barada nikto!”  They left the background noise too loud only Keanu Reeves’ mouth moves.

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Exploring: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Get your copy of the day the earth stood still on DVD and help support the project The Day the Earth Stood Still comes out Friday.  I’m going to have to see it and am a little relieved to hear that according to Director Scott Derrikson the line "Klaatu barada nikto” will be in the movie.  I was furious when the rumor went out that it was not going to even be in it.  Apparently it is said during a loud part of the movie so we will have to listen carefully. I’m reassured to hear that Derrikson put some effort into preserving the essence of the original while trying to adapt it for a modern audience.  I can only hope that he didn’t pander to our modern societies worst parts.

Sci Fi Wire has a lot more up about the movie as for me I will have to see this weekend.

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Theater or Renter: December 2008

Theater or Renter: December 2008 includes 4 movies Punisher: War Zone, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Tale of Despereaux, The Spirit.  Will we watch? Will we rent? or do we even care? Rules of the Game: Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then share with us your comments: does the movie, it’s trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?

Punisher: War Zone:

punisherwarzoneposter Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: Dec 5, 2008

Listed as: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Studio: Lionsgate

Director: Lexi Alexander

Produced by: Avi Arad, Gale Anne Hurd

Written by: Nick Santora, Lexi Alexander, Matt Holloway, Arthur Marcum

Stars: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Dash Mihok, Colin Salmon, Doug Hutchison, T. J. Storm, Mark Camacho, Keram Malicki-Sánchez

The Plot / Story: Waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante anti-hero Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) sets his sights on overeager mob boss Billy Russoti (Dominic West). After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the "Punisher Task Force" hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Frank must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The Day the Earth Stood Still:

thedaytheearthstoodstill2008poster Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: Dec 12, 2008

Listed as: Drama, Sci-Fi

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Director: Scott Derrickson

Produced by: Paul Harris Boardman, Gregory Goodman, Erwin Stoff

Written by: David Scarpa, Ryne Douglas Pearson

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese

The Plot / Story: The film updates Cold War themes like nuclear warfare to more contemporary ones, such as "humans vs. nature" and humanity's generally violent nature towards itself.  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

A more accurate and updated Plot / Story: The Day The Earth Stood Still is about how human society lives in a solipsistic state of mind where they treat each other as poorly as they treat their environment and give into their terrible and violent nature.  The collection of other alien societies decide that they must save the earth from the humans since there are so few planets in the galaxy that can support complex life forms.  Now Helen Benson and her son Jacob must convince Klaatu that humans do have the will to change but only after they are brought to the precipice by a tragedy.

The Tale of Despereaux:

thetaleofdesperauxposter Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: Dec 19, 2008

Listed as: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Studio: Universal Pictures

Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen

Produced by: Gary Ross, Allison Thomas

Written by: Kate DiCamillo, Will McRobb, Gary Ross, Chris Viscardi

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Emma Watson, Dustin Hoffman, Robbie Coltrane, Christopher Lloyd, Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman

The Plot / Story: Based on the 2003 fantasy book of the same name by Kate DiCamillo.  Banished from his home for being more man than mouse, Despereaux (Broderick) is befriended by Princess Pea (Watson) who teaches him the value of reading books (instead of eating them) as well as a fellow outcast, Roscuro the Rat (Hoffman), who is interested in hearing the stories Despereaux has learned. When Roscuro is shunned by the princess, however, he plots her kidnapping, putting Desperaux's human-sized bravery to the test. (Wikipedia)  (The Official Site)

The Spirit:

thespiritposter Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Release Date: Dec 25, 2008

Listed as: Action, Drama

Studio: Lionsgate

Director: Frank Miller

Produced by: Michael Uslan, Deborah Del Prete, Gigi Pritzker, Ben Waisbren

Written by: Screenplay: Frank Miller  Comic Book: Will Eisner

Stars: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson

The Plot / Story: A rookie cop (Macht) returns from the dead to fight crime from the shadows of Central City. His main opposition is a former lab technician who has reinvented himself as The Octopus (Jackson), an elusive criminal mastermind who knows the secrets behind his nemesis.  Based on the newspaper strip of the same name created by Will Eisner.  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

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