Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Film Review: FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956)

Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Running time: 98 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

USA release date: 15th March 1956

Watched on DVD Wednesday 5th January 2011.


Having been laid up with flu for a few days I have been unable to watch any films. I had bought the 50th Anniversary Special Edition DVD as a gift to myself for Christmas. Having started watching it yesterday, it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on it. This afternoon I felt slightly better and so decided to watch the rest. This old classic didn’t disappoint, I have seen it many times before and it’s always a pleasure to watch. But more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters please help those guys out and shoot at that monster thing attacking the spacecraft).

Late in the 22nd Century United Planet cruiser C57D is a year out from Earth base on the way to Altair for a special mission. They are to look for survivors from the Bellerophon expedition 20 years earlier. As they approach they are warned by Dr. Morbius, the last surviving member of the Bellerophon, to turn back. Of course they land and are met by Robbie the Robot, who takes Commander J. J. Adams, Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow M.D. and Lt. Jerry Farman to the residence. Here they meet Dr. Morbius and his daughter, the innocent ‘Alta’. Morbius explains that the crew of the Bellerophon had all met with a gruesome end and he and his daughter seemed immune to whatever it was that killed them. They later find out that an ancient civilisation, the Krell, had once inhabited the planet. They had left vast machines buried deep underground that Morbius was trying to unravel the secrets of. But there’s one vital bit of information, related to the Krell, Morbius is unaware of… I won’t say any more, don’t want to give too much away.

Although dated by today’s standards, I love the special effects in this film. It’s clear that a lot of time and thought went into them and it shows on the screen. I also love that big clunky robot, Robbie, an iconic figure from the era (which is before my time, by the way). Great performances all round; Walter Pidgeon is melodramatic as ever as Dr. Edward Morbius, Anne Francis as the naive Altaira ‘Alta’ Morbius, Leslie Nielsen reminded me of what a very good actor he was back then as Commander J. J. Adams, Warren Stevens as Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow M.D., Jack Kelly as Lt. Jerry Farman and not forgetting Robby the Robot as himself.

One problem with Science Fiction is that you always have to explain the advances in technology, society, science…etc before you can begin to tell the story. This film is no exception, a great deal of time is taken to explain how mankind has advanced and the things Morbius had discovered about the Krell, but I don’t mind all that. At the end of the day the purpose is to entertain and I think they struck just about the right balance here. The comic relief is provided by a little sub-plot involving the cook, who likes the odd Bourbon, and Robbie the Robot. Over all, it’s quite an intellectual film but one that is also very entertaining. Yes, the music is all futuristic and weird, but I’m sure you can forgive that… Highly recommended.

My score: 8.8/10

IMDb Page:

1 comment:

Nathanael Hood said...

Those old school special effects make me drool. Modern day filmmakers could learn a thing or two from them.