From what I can gather, the movie is actually a remake of of a 1951 film, which was an adaption from the 1940 short story, Farewell to the Master.
It started off as one of the natural calamities Armageddon-type show, but soon became a sci-fi Armageddon-type show. Unfortunately, while I didn't mind it, we immediately lost my housemate who didn't like sci-fi/alien shows (and felt thoroughly deceived).
You can read the plot here.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
What really struck me about the movie isn't the strong storyline (which there isn't much) or the fantastic acting (it was ok, and well, one can't fault it much when an eye-candy like Keanu Reeves is involved) but just how reminiscent it is to the story of Jesus.
I suppose you could argue that in the end, almost all stories are like the Christian story, Good versus bad. Redemption. Grace. Forgiveness. Sacrifice.
But it was still interesting how the alien Kiaatu is "born", somewhat immaculate and somewhat like another being taking on human form, so that he can communicate better with humans. (When Helen asks Kiaatu what his original form is like, he replies "it will only scare you", somewhat akin to how humans cannot "withstand" the glory of God.)
Humans are all too willing to conclude that because the alien is more powerful and unknown, it is therefore malevolent and must be destroyed (the first thing they do when he emerges from his "spaceship" is shoot him).
It's a great statement on human nature, of how we fear things we don't know and instead of seeking to understand it, decide to eliminate the perceived "threat". But it's also reminiscent of Jesus' life - misunderstood, persecuted, eventually killed.
Oh, and somewhere in the movie, Kiaatu walks on water and raises the dead to life as well.
I suppose the main difference between this movie and the Christian story is the reason why Kiaatu is here. Jesus came to save the human race. Kiaatu came to save the earth from the humans.
And yet, there is something that Kiaatu said that resonated with the environment lover in me:
If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life. This one can't be allowed to perish. We've watched, we've waited and hoped that you *would* change. It's reached the tipping point. We have to act. We'll undo the damage you've done and give the Earth a chance to begin again.This isn't about climate change (ok, maybe it is a little), but more about the fact that by our very actions, we are destroying the earth. If there really were guardians of Earth out there, how would they perceive us?
One last similarity between the movie and the Christian story? Kiaatu falls in love with the human race, realises they aren't so bad after all, and sacrifices himself to save them. In the hopes and belief that they will change for the better.
The movie implies that it is only Kiaatu's human body that "dies", but not Kiaatu himself. Instead, he rises above earth in his spaceship and returns home.
Somewhat like another guy I know, this one real and not fictional, whose human body was killed, but who was resurrected and whose reason for dying was to sacrifice himself for our sins, granting us a second chance at life and an amazing opportunity at life everlasting and filled with hope.
By the way, my all time favourite scene in the movie? When Helen had her back turned and an army guy swoops down behind her from a helicopter, engulfs her in this ginormous bear hug and both of them are winched back into the helicopter, way above the tree lines. The retrieved Helen ends up seated in the helicopter, a bewildered look on her face.
I'm not doing much justice describing it, you have to watch it to enjoy it. I loved it so much, I watched it about four times, and laughed out loud every time.