on February 11, 2007
Product reviewed: Forbidden Planet: Ultimate Collector's Edition (2006)
Forbidden Planet (1956) is a classic on several levels, as many reviewers have aptly stated. This review concerns the 50th anniversary set. There are two such sets. The first is a two-disc dvd pack. The second includes the same two discs plus a few souvenirs. Either of these are the versions to buy for anyone who appreciates science fiction.
Positives: The two-disc set is a welcome and long-overdue tribute to Forbidden Planet. To me, the most interesting of the bonus features was the hour-long documentary "Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us" (2005) which featured George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and narration by Mark Hamill. I was thrilled to find the episode of The Thin Man tv series (1958) that featured Robby the Robot, and the disc two film The Invisible Boy (1957) was a delightful find.
What's missing: There will only be one 50th anniversary of Forbidden Planet, and although I appreciated the bonus documentaries, I would have liked two more features. First, an audio commentary track either from remaining cast members, or preferably from a film historian would have been wonderful. Second, on-screen textual commentary would have been a nice touch as well, especially for such a special effects classic. Something along the lines of what Michael and Denise Okuda have contributed to the Star Trek films would have made this package very special.
The Ultimate box set also includes a 5 cm tall Robby figure, reduced-size reproductions of lobby (front of house) cards, and an attractive, painted tin container. While the extras are very nice, I would say that they do not justify the extra cost, and would recommend the plain two-disc set as adequate for most buyers.
Language options are adequate. Subtitles: Eng., Fre, Spa. Audio: Eng., Fre.
on January 19, 2003
"Classic" is a term brandished about too frequently but "Forbidden Planet" is a film worthy of that recognition. This is an intelligent, well-written, and paced well with few lapses in action. The special effects, while dated in comparison to today's computer-generated wonders, are still impressive.
Walter Pidgeon, who during the 40's had starred in several popular MGM films, adds just the right amount of authority to his role as the enigmatic Dr. Morbius. Leslie Nielson, who would later garner greater fame in his sidesplitting comic roles of the 80's and 90's, is present in all his "leading man/serious" glory.
The electronic score by Bebe and Louis Baron is a one-of-a-kind listening experience, otherworldly and provocative. It is obviously a work that provided 50's movie patrons with something unheard of before.
Besides the previously mentioned actors, the movie also features performers who would later regularly appear on primetime television: Jack Kelly ("Maverick"), Earl Holliman (Angie Dickinson's boss on "Police Woman"), Anne Francis (the 60's "Honey West"), Richard Anderson ("The Six Million Dollar Man"), James Drury (TV's long running "The Virginian") and in a very small role, James Best who would later find fame on "The Dukes of Hazzard".
on April 29, 2002
"It will remind us...after all...that we are not God..."
--Leslie Nielsen as Commander J.J. Adams in the final scene of FORBIDDEN PLANET.
SENSATIONAL SCREENPLAY!!! FANTASTIC MUSIC!!!
EXCELLENT ACTING!!! The producers of FORBIDDEN PLANET took Shakepeare's "The Tempest," teleported the play on the flying saucer C 57-D in the year 2200 AD past the speed of light to the planet Altair 4, threw in a mad scientist, Dr. Edward Morbius--veteran of 100 movies, Canadian Walter Pidgeon--played him opposite a young, rugged handsome space commander--another Canadian, Leslie Nielsen as J.J. Adams, an unusual blend of leading man, space captain, military man, and detective--gave the mad scientist a beautiful daughter named Altaira--21 year old beautiful blonde with a mole Anne Francis, the rumored model for the Barbie Doll--surrounded the leads with terrific character actors like Jack Kelly, Warren Stevens, Earl Holliman, and Richard Anderson (best known as THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN's Oscar Goldman), and then created the GREATEST ROBOT EVER, Robby, master of "187 languages and a variety of subtongues" who serves Morbius and his daughter as security guard, chauffeur, chef, butler, and even occasional dressmaker!--lines by Marvin Miller, the classic voice for the 1950s tv show, "The Millionaire"--mixed in Freudian Psychology, a murder mystery, ray guns, THE HOUSE OF THE FUTURE, an invisible Monster From the Id, OUT OF THIS WORLD BACKGROUNDS, and the result is FORBIDDEN PLANET is a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl science fiction story with a white hot finish!
Or as Leslie Nielsen says in the final scene,
"It will remind us...after all...that we are not God..."
on December 29, 2001
FORBIDDEN PLANET is certainly one of the most influential films of the 20th Century, containing an unusual story line, some remarkable concept art designs, a superior musical score, and a special effects robot that set the standard for science-fiction films for some thirty years and still continues to influence film makers today. Unfortunately, the film is also a very static one, ultimately less interesting for any sense of excitement than for purely visual appeal.
In general, the story--which is famous for being very loosely based on Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST--concerns a deep space mission helmed by Leslie Nielson sent to relieve colonists of a distant planet. Upon arriving, they find only two survivors: an inhospitable Walter Pidgeon and his beautiful daughter Anne Francis. Pidgeon warns the relief mission against landing on the planet, lest the mysterious and evil force that destroyed the original colonists be once more unleashed, but land they do... and soon they too fall victim to an unseen but fearsome killer.
There are many marvelous things about the film. The robot--suggested by Shakespeare's character Ariel--is truly the single most enjoyable element of the film, with much of the film's best lines and a memorable personality to boot. Anne Francis--again suggested by Shakespeare's Miranda--gives quite a remarkable performance as a beautiful young woman raised without knowledge of mankind. The art designs, whether of the lost alien civilization, the home in which Pideon and Francis live, or Francis' costumes, are stunning. Even so...
Perhaps it is more a matter of passing time than anything else. Both Nielson and Pidgeon's performances seem unnecessarily restrained and the cinematography is extremely static. The film as a whole seems to lack excitement and, although intriguing, the story itself is handled in a very conventional way. Fans of classic science fiction cannot afford to be without FORBIDDEN PLANET, and most viewers will enjoy seeing it at least once, but for all its influence and visual beauty many may find that one viewing is enough.
Word of Warning: make absolutely certain that you are purchasing the widescreen version of the film, for the pan-and-scan seriously undercuts the film's visual appeal.
Amazon.com's reviewer's excellent review of "Forbidden Planet" covers all the bases about this superlative science fiction film; my own review can't be nearly as thoughtful. Surely "Forbidden Planet" inspired the great space operas which followed in the 1960's and beyond, from "Star Trek" to "2001: A Space Odyssey", and indeed, "Star Wars". Leslie Nielsen's Commander J. J. Adams is clearly the archetype for Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in "Star Trek". His relationship with the ship's doctor, Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow (Warren Stevens - who later appeared on a classic "Star Trek" episode.) clearly presages Kirk's relationship with Dr. McCoy. This science fiction adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" may not have the same literary quality as its predecessor, but it is nonetheless a spellbinding tale about a mad scientist whose uncontrolled emotions wreaks havoc on his adopted planet and Commander Adams' starship. Walter Pidgeon is spectacular as Dr. Mobius, the film's version of Prospero; both Nielsen and Warren are fine as the ship's captain and doctor, respectively. The soundtrack with its theremin score is widely regarded as a classic of science fiction music. Without question, this film is an absolute must for fans of science fiction cinema.
on July 10, 2001
If you have a moment -- and I assume you do -- I'd like to talk about Forbiden Planet. It's one of the films (along with She, Island of Lost Souls, The Day the earth Stood Still, and a handfull of others) that transformed science fiction films, from their undeserved status as kids' stuff, to serious depictions of the human condition...not to mention the alien condition, which is so often and unsettlingly similar to our own. And speaking of unsettling resemblances, have you ever noticed how much this film resembles Star Trek? Can't be helped. There's a certain "family resemblance" in a lot of s-f, and the ship/crew/new worlds gimmick was in use long before Captains Adams and Kirk appeared. Anyway, the producers of Forbidden Planet could hardly sue anyone for plagiarism, now could they?
The story is that of The Tempest; though certain events have been changed and liberties taken, the core of Shakespeare's play remains unchanged. Prospero (i.e. Morbius) guards his daughter and island-bound privacy jealously, and uses his magic to confuse and terroroize the party of sailors who've landed there. It's a small step from this to Altair-IV; with the Krell to provide Morbius' magic, Robby the Robot to act as both Caliban and Ariel, and some good old techno-huggermugger thrown in to help obfuscate things further, it's a different (but still similar) story. It's also a damned good story, a powerful depiction of a man destroyed by his darkest subconscous obsessions. It's a story that demands to be taken seriously...and in spite of such distractions as a drunken robot, not to mention the clumsiest seduction ever committed to celluloid, take it seriously we do.
One of the most important reasons this film was taken seriously was its special effects. Many of them were, and still are, some of the best of their kind. Even by today's advanced standards, a good deal of the visuals are real-looking and seamless. Watch the scene where Adams vaporizes the tiger; it's almost impossible to see the effects edit. And even though Altair is obviously a soundstage, the Krell constructions beneath Mobius' home achieve complete reality. This feels like -- no, is -- an alien environment...which leads to another great visual: Morbius, Adams and the Doc, walking on the gantry, infinitesimal specks against the massive Krell machinery all around them. And even the soundstage set has its moments -- when the monster gets caught in the force-field, and you get your first good look at its misshapen, demonic form, it's an instant edge-of-your-seat moment. Whatever you were expecting, it sure wasn't that!
As to the actors -- well, Walter Pidgeon pretty much carries the film, which is really only fair as his character is the key to everything. Anne Francis, who would later go on to immortality in a lyric from Rocky Horror Picture Show, is very good -- and absolutely gorgeous! -- as sheltered (but game) daughter Vena. And Leslie Nielsen, a very funny guy who persists in doing unfunny movies, here does an admirable job with a role that was written to be one-dimensional. Nielsen somehow stretches J. J. Adams to two-and-a-half dimensions -- now that's acting! (they've given Oscars for less!) The supporting cast perform their various script-related functions (hey, just like Star Trek!), and do so very capably...though I can't imagine why a tight-run ship like Adams' would have an alcoholic cook -- or, for that matter, why such an advanced ship would even have an old-fashioned pots-n-pans kitchen in the first place. Oh, well...even in spite of such obvious mistakes, Forbidden Planet is still a classic, a great film in any category, and will be loved by anybody who loves movies.
on April 1, 2001
I wish I had got the chance to see this movie in a theatre. The special effects are fantastic, and remember this movie was made in the 1950s. I am sure George Lucas got some inspiration from this movie.
'Forbidden Planet' has a great story, wonderful scenery, great special effects, and a good cast. Leslie Nielsen makes a good feature film debut (it's interesting to see his early, more serious roles). The history of the planet, with the ancient civilization, is very fascinating and the music is haunting. This was the first movie to have a soundtrack made entirely by electronic instruments. This movie inspired not only George Lucas; I actually read a Donald Duck adventure, some years ago, with almost exactly the same story. Also 'Alien 3' has some similarities in the story about the beautiful woman who, without wanting to, gets the men (who haven't seen a woman for years) to start arguing.
I saw this movie for the first time today and it is now on the list of my favorite movies. Somebody said it was a little too slow, but I don't think it is. I can almost promise that you will never regret buying this movie. I think you will watch it over and over again. It is a real masterpiece, a must-see! Do not miss it!
on December 31, 2000
A fantastic film! Moviemaking at its absolute best here!
Before special effects became the main attractions, "Forbidden Planet" had already set the "high-bar" in space travel science fiction. A truly intelligent plot divulged here along with a moral line that's woven so skillfully inside.
The humorous portion of the film is also well underplayed with witty dialogue subtly woven into the action. Leslie Nielsen gives us a small glimpse into his comedic side as the strong and handsome commander. Walter Pidgeon is perfect in his role as the language expert who analyzes the powerful alien technology.
Anne Francis is truly beautiful in this production, and plays her part with engaging enthusiasm. She veils her hidden love for the commander Nielsen by mocking his "I'll put more guards on the guards!" and claiming that she "just doesn't like him!" It's great!
Robby the Robot is great ... with a perfect voice and a demeanor that never gets tiring ... What's still nice about this film is that the technology, while a major part of the story, really takes a backseat to the characters as you watch them try to deal with the invisible, but deadly 30-foot monster than can tear buildings to shreds and melt supposedly impenetrable walls. I believe this concept was used as the basis for one of the episodes of the great "Johnny Quest" cartoon series where an invisible creature, leaving footprints, follows a trail of electric lights to its end.
There's the ship's cook who's rewarded with 60 gallons of his favorite hooch ... a burping robot who ingests the hooch to analyze its molecules ... a little love rivalry between the men ... holograms (simulated) in an early sci-fi movie ... great costumes for all the actors ... and enough sound effects to make you feel like you're watching a Saturday afternoon matinee at your local theatre ...
This is science fiction at its absolute best ... the original Star Trek comes a very close second ... but it was a series with many, many wonderful stories ... my advice is to be an avid collector of both!
on November 13, 2000
Considering when this movie was released, it HAS to be rated one of the most powerful and intruiging sci-fi movies ever produced. The story line seems plausible and is enchanting (based on a well-known play), the acting splendid, and the special effects outstanding! And to view the video in stereo is the frosting on the cake. I first saw this movie in the theatre back in '56 or '57 when it came out, but with the new sound effects, the audio is amazing. The 'music score' for this production of course were the tonalities of the prototype of what would later be known as the Moog Synthesizer. And it's effect is superb. When I first saw this movie in the theatre as an adolescent back in '56 or '57, I couldn't believe what I had just seen, and that wonder has remained with me ever since. And it's amusing to see such celebreties as Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Warrem Stevens et al when they were 'no-names', just beginning their acting careers. Anyone who is a sci-fi nut HAS own this for their collection. I don't know if this movie is available in the DVD format, but if it is, it should be 'out of this world'.
on September 20, 2000
What a Soundtrack! What a screenplay! What fantastic voices of Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Neilsen, and Robby the Robot!Terrific acting by fit, goodlooking actors! And Anne Francis--a blonde beauty with a mole on her face!--as Leslie Neilsen says in the movie when she's coming out of the water after a swim, "Holy murder!" Look out, Cindy Crawford!
It's been over 30 years since I barely caught the tail end of this movie on a black and white tv set in Philadelphia, and it's still the best movie I've ever seen! And it's one of only 3 movies I love to watch again and again!
Here are the basics: the producers and creative team took Shakespeare's "The Tempest," moved the story to the year 2200 A.D., created a soundtrack called "electronic tonalities," cast Walter Pidgeon--a veteran of over 100 movies-- and turned him into a mad scientist, gave Leslie Neilsen a chance to show what a terrific, well rounded leading man he is, made Anne Francis a fabulous scientist's daughter, and threw in super character actors Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly ("Maverick"), Richard Anderson ("The Six Million Dollar Man"), and Earl Holliman ("Police Woman"), and invented the most eloquent, talented, and likable robot ever to grace the screen, and mixed science fiction, a love story, and a murder mystery on a planet light years away from Earth!
Walter Pidgeon is Morbius, the sole survivor of an Earth expedition years before, a philologist who is living alone on Altair 4 with Altaira (Anne Francis), his young sexy daughter, and a robot, Robby, who speaks "187 languages and a variety of subtongues," when Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew arrive from Earth in the C-57D, a flying saucer.
The saucer lands, and Nielsen and his crew soon learn that Pidgeon's colleagues were all murdered, as he tells them, "torn literally limb from limb by soem mysterious force that never once showed itself." Leslie Nielsen plays his role very much like Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, tough but fair, a ladies man, and carefully adding up the clues to gradually find the killer.
"Forbidden Planet" is a beautiful movie, a textbook on how a movie should be made: have actors who look the part and who have good voices, write a great script, and use terrific music, props, and special effects. And throw in the old "Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy gets Girl theme!"
(And it's obvious that Gene Roddenberry spent a LOT of time watching this movie because "Star Trek" is an obvious "Forbidden Planet" ripoff! )
"Forbidden Planet" is better than "Star Wars" because it's more mature, better than "Gone With the Wind" because it deals with the future, not the past, and better than "Titanic" because Leslie Nielsen is a leading man both in Romance and in Action--you just know he's going to find a way to win his leading lady, and not lose her forever, like Leonardo DiCaprio did in "Titanic!"
But the best way to describe "Forbidden Planet" is to quote Leslie Nielsen's final line in the movie, "It will remind us... after all...that we are not God..."
Chari Krishnan Tango2200@Hotmail.Com