Forbidden Planet stars Leslie Nielsen as a heroic starship captain who finds the paradise planet Altair-IV, which is inhabited by Dr. Morbius and his daughter, the sole survivors of an earlier expedition. Morbius uncovered the secrets of the long-lost civilization that made Altair-IV a paradise — the same secrets that unknowingly destroyed the society!
Rating: 9 out of 10
Plain and simple- “Forbidden Planet” is an under appreciated sci-fi classic. It was directed by Fred Wilcox and stars Leslie Nielson (yes, Leslie Nielson from Naked Gun and Airplane!), Anne Francis and Walter Pidgeon. It is a film which is a marvel to behold on numerous levels. On the surface it is almost a sci-fi horror fable about a creature awakened from a deep slumber on another planet. The story involves a monster which is killing off crew members of a rescue party sent to investigate the disappearance of previous explorers. Upon finding only two survivors, Pidgeon and his daughter played sexily by Francis, the captain suspects that something about the ancient civilization of the planet is awry. There has been obvious comparisons to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but the film digs deeper than that and explores the Greek intensity of the Id. Pidgeon’s character gives this feeling to the viewer because his sub conscious-mind that drives the creature.
Leslie Nielson and Anne Francis have great chemistry. Their interactions with Robby the Robot (a very expensive prop for 1956) are wonderful to watch, as are the special effects that still look very polished to this day. “Forbidden Planet” also sports a cool electronic score done by Louis and Bebe Barron. It’s is a bit jarring at first but the beeps and boops mesh well with futuristic settings.
I remember having this film on VHS — then laserdisc and now blu ray — and the transfer is impeccable. It still holds up well and is very entertaining even for the most jaded sci-fi geek. The dialog is a bit corny and the pacing somewhat laborious at times. But I am nit picking. Catch it in widescreen if you can. And try not to provoke monsters from the Id.
One of the greatest and most groundbreaking Sci-Fi films of all time. It should be appreciated with a reverance by fans of franchises such as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and most obviously, Star Trek because without Forbidden Planet, contemporary space-based Sci-Fi As we know it wouldn’t exist.
It not only set the bar for high standards for Sci-Fi as far as visual effects are concerned, but it established the concept of mixing factually based Sci-Fi with Sci-Fi Fantasy. The similarities between Forbidden Planet and Star Trek are so obvious that there’s really no question that Gene Roddenberry plagiarized the entire concept when he pitched his show to Desilu Studios in 1964. There really only are two major differences: the first being whereas Forbidden Planet dealt with the general “why-are-we-here-and-where-are-we-going” questions (fundamental questions about our existence) , Star Trek dealt with those as well as contemporary social and political issues of the 1960’s. The second difference is that the visual effects of the classic film from 1956 are far superior to those of the classic television series from 1966. In fact, they are so good, as Vic notes in his review,they still stand up today, 55 years after the film’s original release.
I personally have Forbidden Planet on Blu-Ray and it is the pride of my collection. Not only is it a fantastic film, but it looks absolutely gorgeous in full-HD 1080p and the audio is equally as stunning been remastered on DTS-HD master audio track.
Great summary, Shawn. I agree wholeheartedly about the visual and subtextual impact the film has had on many film-goers and film-makers alike.
It is a treasure to behold on blu ray. I had never made the Roddenberry/Forbidden Planet connection before. Good catch on that one.
Great review Victor & thanks for taking on one of the greatest Sci-Fi movies of all time. Great job!
Thanks Derick! I had fun writing this one up.
Just a note, Anne Francis died this month, Jan. 2, 2011.
really? oh wow.
Yes, I believe it was within two weeks of Leslie Nielsen’s death.
Great review Vic, I’m psyched to check this ish out. Are you a fan of FilmFax magazine?
I wasn’t n love with this film the first time I saw (and reviewed) it, but subsequent viewings have it growng on me.
It is so hard to picture Leslie Nielsen in a serious role, though