First Word on “The Day the Earth Stood Still” offers a review of Scott Derrickson’s The Day the Earth Stood Still!

Director Scott Derrickson actually does a better job within the sci-fi genre than he did with supernatural courtroom concoction of “Exorcism of Emily Rose,” creating a well-crafted film that maintains the feel of foreboding from the original movie without losing sight of how the world has changed. You can tell the filmmakers really understand the central premise behind the original alien invasion movie, one that avoided all the big-scale destruction of “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds” in favor of thoughtful exploration into why aliens might land on earth and pose a threat. Even so, they’ve found a satisfactory blend of CG FX moments and dramatic scenes of human interaction.

The results are extremely relevant and timely, possibly even as much or more than it was 57 years ago. These days, humans aren’t just destroying each other with violence and warfare, but also destroying the earth through pollution, yet those ecological issues are handled far more subtly than “The Day After Tomorrow” and “The Happening.” There’s an eerie amount of forethought to what’s going on in the world today from the stock market crashing as soon as the alien appear to having a female Secretary of Defense played by Kathy Bates. In some ways, they’ve created an amalgam of every single sci-fi film released by 20th Century Fox with eerie similarities to “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” showing how far the influence of the original movie has extended. Watching the world come to the realization there’s life out there and the world might be ending works as well here as it does in the original.

Congratulations, Mr. Derrickson! I can’t wait to see the film.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.