First off, it's very true to the original, right down to the deliberate pacing and panoramic camera shots; lots of wide angles and long takes. So it begs the question why it should be remade. I generally feel that if a remake cannot improve upon the original, it should not be made. Just because audiences are pansies and refuse to watch films made before 1980 doesn't mean that we should cater to their philistinism (it's a word, I looked it up).
While I do appreciate the new cast including Hugh Laurie and New Hotness...I mean, Miranda Otto, the original featured Richard Attenborough and a rugged James Stewart. Not shabby.
Second, while I think Giovanni Ribisi does a really good job embodying his awkward and creepy character, Elliott, there is no reason for the blind hatred the rest of the people have for him. From the minute he appears on screen, everyone tries their hardest to ignore him and pretend he doesn't exist while silently and secretly brooding about how disgusted they are with him. For what reason?
Now, if you're familiar with the original, you'll know that the "Elliott" character was actually the German "Heinrich," and while I'm not entirely up on my German history after 1945, I can definitely tell you that even in 1965, there was a whole lot of animosity and hatred toward the Germans. This is especially prominent in the scene when Heinrich/Elliott kills the injured Nomad. In the new version, it's easy to sympathize with Elliott because although he took a life, he also put a man out of his misery and saved them a large portion of water. In the original, however, it's appropriate for the people to overreact to this seemingly senseless bit of violence and utter inhumanity. Heinrich is a monster and a beast, regardless of saving them water, because his aggression is remnant of the German aggression in WWII. Additionally, when they discover the truth about Heinrich's designs, they become unreasonably angry because he misled them and lied to them after they had gone out on a limb to trust him. There's a whole cultural and social battle that erupts in these two scenes that is absolutely impossible to replicate as presented in the new version. The closest they could have come would have been to make Elliott's character something seemingly dark and violent, something people hate based on principle...like a pedophile or Arab terrorist.
As it is, it doesn't work. As I mentioned before, a film should only be remade if it can be improved upon--not made to be the same, and definitely not made to be any worse.
However, it is well shot, especially coloristically and compositionally, and well acted, particularly Giovanni Ribisi...even if his character sucked. Overall, it's an interesting film, even if it's been lobotomized.