By Marc Bernardin
April 11, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s the scariest movie I’ve seen in a long while, and not simply because of the story — a knowing, mature sci-fi morality play about a spaceman who comes to Earth with a grave warning about our future. No, Robert Wise’s film is frightening because its themes so eerily mirror our war with Iraq. Fearful that our aggression as a species will escalate beyond our terrestrial borders, alien emissary Klaatu (Rennie) scolds the world’s assembled minds with words that could be from President Bush’s State of the Union address: ”There must be security for all, or no one is secure.” In the film’s rather brave ending, humanity is left with a sobering set of options: annihilation or peace guaranteed by the presence of superior, undeniable force. Today’s sci-fi filmmakers could learn a thing or two from an old black-and-white gem that has the here and now written all over it.

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