Friday, November 28, 2008

Exfanding Review: Forbidden Planet

In the summer after either my Sophomore or Junior year of college, I decided to begin exposing myself to movies I had never seen that were considered classics, referenced frequently by my friends and the media, or just appealed to me for entertainment's sake.

As you surely know by now if you've been following the blog, I'm a big science fiction nut. So, it was only a matter of time before my trips through the movie stacks at the local library led me to...

Forbidden Planet movie posterForbidden Planet! Amazing, indeed!

Forbidden Planet is the story of a group of space travelers from Earth who are sent to planet Altair IV to discover the reason for the communications silence from the Earth colonists there. What they find is... not what they expected.

Forbidden Planet feels like the original Star Trek meets The Twilight Zone. There's action, mystery, a bit of humor here and there, and some thought-provoking ideas. Those familiar with the works of Shakespeare will also notice more than a little of The Tempest throughout.

I was truly impressed by the quality of the special effects, especially given that the movie was made in 1956. The movement and landing of the Earth crew's flying saucer is remarkably fluid, the laser fire looked nearly as good as the blaster fire from the original Star Wars, and the various other special effects were all very well done and hold up better than even some big-name sci-fi special effects from the 80s do.

The acting is generally pretty good; the dialogue is hardly embarrassing; and the sets and filming locations may look a touch outdated at times but are usually very convincing. The music, however, was one of my favorite aspects of the movie: eccentric synth that feels truly alien, giving the film a unique sound that I've rarely heard elsewhere, and completing the effect that the story is, pardon the expression, out-of-this-world.

The film also marks the first appearance of Robby the Robot, who has held major roles and made cameos in a multitude of other sci-fi works, including The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, Mork & Mindy, Space Quest I (VGA remake), and Star Wars: Episode I, just to name a few.

Also worth noting is that the commander of the flying saucer is a young and vaguely awkward Leslie Nielsen.

Yes, that Leslie Nielsen. The one from Airplane! and The Naked Gun and the Scary Movie... movies.

Forbidden Planet comes highly recommended. It's fun to watch if you're into space and robots and whatnot; it's a notable piece of cinema history for film buffs; and it's a sci-fi classic that has influenced the likes of Star Trek and that continues to be referenced in other works of science fiction to this day.

Forbidden Planet spaceship landing

[Movie poster from Flying saucer image from]

No comments: