Harry Harvey Jr.
Fred M. Wilcox
Running Time: 98 minutes
US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
Science-fiction movies are, by their very nature, a load of nonsense. The difference between a good one and a bad one, then, often comes down to how convincingly they manage to put their own particular brand of nonsense across. Take Forbidden Planet, for example. Its set in the early stages of the 23rd Century, witters on about mankind conquering the galaxy in rocket ships (bless!), and features as one of its main characters a robotic part-bodyguard part-coffee machine named Robby (who might get his name in the credits, but is clearly just a bloke in an extremely uncomfortable costume).
Frankly, its a load of hokum deep down, we all know that. Yet, almost half a century on from its original release, this fruity 50s space-romp continues to command immense popularity across the length and breadth of the movie-watching cosmos. Why? is the obvious question which springs to mind, and you may well ask, for this tale of cookie goings-on on the far-flung planet of Altair IV is hardly the most riveting of tales. Its about a crew of intergalactic sticky-beaks (led by Leslie Nielsen as the perennially upright Commander John J. Adams) who are given a less than warm welcome when they arrive at the home of Dr Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his annoyingly nubile daughter Altaira (Anne Francis). All of the planets other inhabitants have long since snuffed it at the hands of a mysterious unseen foe, and it seems certain that Adams and his boys will be next but not much happens, theres lots of procrastinating, and the ending all turns out to be a bit of an anti-climax.
What Forbidden Planet does have, however, is an intelligent screenplay by Cyril Hume which doesnt always work, but at least takes some risks. Based vaguely on William Shakespeares The Tempest, it attempts to explore the power of the mind and conflicts between psychology and technology, culminating in the bizarre sight of Nielsen and co fleeing a completely invisible space monster. It has to be said though, that much like another iconic slice of 50s sci-fi – The War of the Worlds the special effects arent quite as bad as you might expect.
Of course, theres little denying that this is a dated piece of work, and the performances are inconsistent to say the least (Nielsen, appearing long before hed ever become associated with making that seemingly endless line of comedy spoofs, often looks as if hes trying not to laugh). Despite its obvious influence on the likes of Star Trek and Lost in Space, it doesnt really live up to its legendary reputation. In fact, its often like watching the pilot episode of a TV series which could have become something special, if only it had actually got beyond its first instalment.
It's Got: A front cover/poster depicting Robby carrying a mysterious blonde woman in his beefy metallic arms despite the fact that she looks nothing like Anne Francis (the only female in the cast) and, even if she did, such a scene never occurs in the film.
It Needs: To have gotten rid of the extremely dodgy scene where were supposed to assume that Altaira is doing a spot of skinny-dipping, even though lazy direction and clumsy editing makes it blatantly obvious that she is, in fact, more than adequately covered up.
DVD Extras A trailers your lot. Version reviewed: Forbidden Planet DVD Extras Rating: 1/10
Alternatives:Any old Star Trek flick.
The best sci-fi movie of all time! And if you believe that, youll also believe that Robbys a real robot.