Director – C. Thomas Howell, Screenplay – Darren Dalton, Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Adam Silver, Music – Guillermo J. Silberstein & Mauricio Yazigi, Visual Effects – Tiny Juggernaut (Supervisor – Scott D. Wheeler), Makeup – Branwyne. Production Company – The Asylum.
C. Thomas Howell (Josh Myron), Sinead McCafferty (Sky), Darren Dalton (Prewitt), Bug Hall (Man), Judd Nelson (Charlie), Cameron Bender (Sam)
Giant robots appear over all the major Earth cities. These are nicknamed Megaliths. Soldier Josh Myron heads a unit to investigate an object that came down in Los Angeles. From out of the wreck appear a nude man and woman who demonstrate the power to mentally repel attackers. They are taken into military custody, although neither appear to be able to speak. As Josh guards the woman, she suddenly speaks to him, stating that they have come to destroy the Earth because humanity has demonstrated the capacity for threatening other species. She requests that Josh prove that humanity is worth sparing. The robots meanwhile shut down all power worldwide. When Josh’s story is disbelieved, he decides to break the woman from custody and go on a quest to prove that humanity should be saved.
The Asylum is a low-budget US production company that have become famous for their ‘mockbusters’ – titles designed to imitate big-budget releases and come out on dvd shelves just before their well-known counterpart does. Their films have included the likes of Snakes on a Train (2006), I Am Omega (2007), Transmorphers (2007), Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (2008), 100 Million BC (2008), The 18 Year Old Virgin (2009), Battle of Los Angeles (2011), Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) and Age of the Hobbits (2012), along with many others.
The Day the Earth Stopped was an Asylum mockbuster that was released three days before Scott Derrickson’s remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). With the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) being a well-known classic, the plot was a familiar one that The Asylum were easily able to copy. From this, they have drawn the basics of the arrival of an alien visitor(s) – although here, the Klaatu equivalent is played by a woman (Sinead McCafferty) – who have come to warn people that the Earth is going to be destroyed because humanity has reached the capacity where they can threaten the rest of the universe. Like Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still, she arranges a demonstration where power is turned off all around the world. Similarly, like The Day the Earth Stood Still, the alien comes accompanied by a robot – in this case, a horde of giant robots that hover over every major city of the world (although crucially never seem to do much throughout). One of the oddities about the film is that the giant robots are referred to as Megaliths – which is actually the term that is applied to ancient standing stone monuments such as Stonehenge.
Made on one of The Asylum’s economy budgets, The Day the Earth Stopped is a cheaply impoverished film on all counts. There is little conviction to the effects scenes – even the non-effects scenes look as though they have been cheaply shot. For instance, the aliens are supposed to have caused a worldwide disaster by stopping all power but you would hardly know it from the few scenes we get that amount to no more than a handful of cars stopped on the streets. The action, the stakes of the end of the world are so generically delivered that it is hard to care about what happens.
The Day the Earth Stopped was made by C. Thomas Howell. Howell was a teen actor during the 1980s and then became an Asylum regular, starring in the likes of War of the Worlds (2005) and The Da Vinci Treasure (2006). He branched out as a director for The Asylum with a handful of other films, including War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave (2008) and The Land That Time Forgot (2009).