I have liked science fiction movies for a while now. I have only seen a few of the older ones, but I have been trying to change that. I really don't remember hearing that much about Forbidden Planet until recently. I was intrigued and decided to pick up the movie after it was released on Blu-ray.
Recommend this product?
In the 23rd century, a space ship from Earth is sent to Altair IV, a planet sixteen light years away, to find out what happened to an expedition sent there twenty years earlier to set up a colony. Commander John J. Adams is determined to follow his orders even after they are contacted by Dr. Morbius - on Altair IV - who tries to talk them out of landing. When they land, they are met by Robby the robot who takes Commander Adams and a few other men to see Dr. Morbius. The doctor explains that almost everyone from the previous expedition was killed. Only Morbius and his wife survived. He now lives with his daughter, Altaira and Robby. His wife died several years before.
Dr. Morbius talks about how he has been studying the Krell, the highly intelligent native race of the planet who died 200,000 years ago. It isn't long before some sort of monster is attacking the ship and even killing crew members. Commander Adams is determined to figure out what is going on, with or without the cooperation of Dr. Morbius.
According to some things I read about Forbidden Planet, along with information shared in one of the extras, the plot for the movie is very much like the plot of The Tempest by William Shakespear. I haven't read that play, so I have no idea how much like it the movie is. I do think the plot works very well. Several things are going on, though it isn't overly complicated. Things really aren't predictable even though I did figure one thing out ahead of time. The movie is very entertaining and definitely worth watching.
It seems like most people consider Forbidden Planet to only be a science fiction movie. I definitely agree that it is science fiction, but I also feel it has horror elements as well. The crew of the spaceship is being terrorized by some kind of monster, and some of the crew are even killed. Nothing to graphic or violent is seen, so some of those elements are more mild. The monster ends up being very effective. The explanation for it is one of the more clever ones that has been used. The monster isn't clearly shown and that makes it scarier. For me, this movie is science fiction horror. There is a creepy feel to most of the movie. The look of the planet as well as the odd electronic sounding music add to the creepy feel. I think the movie works really well as a horror movie.
When Forbidden Planet begins, the ship is already on the way to Altair IV. It is mentioned that the ship has a warp drive that will allow it to travel at faster than the speed of light. Dr. Morbius has a lot of advanced technology. Some of it are things left behind by the Krell and other things, like Robby the robot, are things that Dr. Morbius designed himself. Even though the movie is over fifty years old now, those things still have a futuristic look to them. The spaceship isn't as advanced looking, but it is still effective. There is a believable look to things. Robby is the most different looking robot I think I've seen in a movie. He is very helpful though. Now that I've seen this movie, I can see how it has influenced other science fiction movies over the years. When it was made, it was the first really big budget science fiction movie. The look of the movie does make it clear that it had a larger budget. It has held up very well and is definitely still worth watching.
Altaira has grown up with only her father and Robby as companions in Forbidden Planet. She is definitely intrigued when Commander Adams and his men arrive. She does do some flirting and some of the men like her attention. Commander Adams doesn't seem to like her at first, but that changes and then decide they are in love. She spends most of the movie running around in very short dresses, so she does show off a lot of skin for when the movie was made. At one point she was swimming and while really nothing was seen, it is pretty much said that she is naked. The growing relationship between Adams and Altaira does add a little bit of romance to what is going on without taking the focus away from the monster terrorizing the crew.
There are several characters in Forbidden Planet, though only a few of them receive much attention. Commander Adams is very focused on carrying out the mission. Once he realizes that more is going on, he intends to deal with anyway he can. This is the most serious role I've seen Leslie Nielsen in. It is also a bit different for me to see him without white hair. He is fine as Commander Adams. Most of the crew members are just sort of there without doing much. Jerry and Doc are with Adams during a few important scenes and they get a little more to do.
Dr. Morbius originally came to Altair IV as part of the previous mission. He has spent most of his time on the planet with only his daughter and Robby since something killed off everyone except his wife years ago. Morbius has spent the years studying the Krell and using his increased intelligence to create new things, like Robby. He is a more complex character and Walter Pigeon does well with the part. Altaira is intelligent even though she doesn't really know about some things. She is likable overall and Ann Francis does fine with the part. Marvin Miller provides the voice for Robby. The voice fits very well with the robot.
Ann Francis - Altaira
Leslie Nielsen - Commander Adams
Walter Pigeon - Dr. Morbius
Fred McLeod Wilcox - Director
Forbidden Planet has had a few different DVD releases. In September of 2010, it was released on Blu-ray. I'm not sure what sort of extras were included in the previous releases of the movie. The picture quality is amazing throughout the movie, so I am thinking some kind of restoration was done on the movie. When I watched the theatrical trailer for the movie, included on the disc, the colors in it looked very muted and washed out. The movie The Invisible Boy and an episode of the tv show The Thin Man, each featuring Robby, are included. There are some deleted scenes and lost footage that are interesting.
Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us is a Documentary made by TCM that is focused on science fiction movies from the 1950s in general. Several people, including Steven Speilberg, James Cameron, and George Lucas talk about how they were influenced by the science fiction movies from the 1950s. Forbidden Planet is mentioned, but it isn't the focus of the documentary. Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet is an interesting featurette focused on the making of the movie. It is explained how some things, including effects, were created for the movie. Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon is focused on Robby. I'm very glad I decided to pick up the Blu-ray of Forbidden Planet. It is worth picking up, especially for fans of the movie.
Forbidden Planet is a wonderfully entertaining classic science fiction movie that holds up very well. It is clear that the movie has influenced many other science fiction movies over the years. People who like this type of movie should definitely give it a chance.
This review is part of talyseon's Let There Be Lips! Rocky Horror Write Off.
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