Forbidden Planet (1956) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Forbidden Planet (1956) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on January 26th, 2022 | Movie Review | Sci-Fi, Creature, Space, Isolation

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It’s about a distant planet-colony gone silent and the starship which goes to investigate.

Forbidden Planet was directed by Fred M. Wilcox (Shadow in the Sky and Lassie Come Home) and stars Walter Pidgeon (The Gorilla and How Green Was My Valley) as Dr. Morbius, Anne Francis, (Return and Blackboard Jungle) as his daughter, Altaria, Leslie Nielsen (Day of the Animals and Dracula: Dead and Loving It) as Commander Adams, and Robby the Robot (The Invisible Boy, the Ark II television series, and others) as himself.

Can Commander Adams and his crew best Dr. Morbius and his lovely, naïve daughter?

Forbidden Planet  Review

Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi riff on The Tempest. And about 60% of the television Star Trek episodes were a riff on Forbidden Planet. In Shakespeare’s Tempest, a powerful sorcerer and his daughter were stranded on an island and encounter new characters from a shipwreck spilling over their landscape twelve years later.

In Forbidden Planet, the sorcerer is replaced with a philologist, Dr. Morbius, and the shipwrecked crew is replaced with a rescue party. The colony on Altair IV went silent some twenty years ago, not long after it had first touched down, and only the doctor and his daughter survived. The all-male crew of C-47D has been sent to investigate. Thus, Shakepeare’s island is updated with a planet – a forbidden planet. Its race of Krell have been extinct for 200,000 years. Only its artifacts remain.

The planet is forbidden to the crew according to its initial contact with Dr. Morbius. He assures them that he does not need to be rescued and that unnamed dangers await them. The crew fails to heed his warnings and soon, they encounter the mysterious dangers; invisible forces moving across the planet’s surface. Beneath the planet’s surface lies a still-functioning super-computer twenty-miles square powered by 9,200 thermonuclear reactors. A level of science indistinguishable from magic.

Tapping into that kind of almost limitless power could be dangerous. And there is a consciousness-enhancing option available. Dr. Morbius succumbed to the temptation and his cognitive powers soared. Some members of the crew are tempted to try the same trick. The crew is simultaneously tempted by Dr. Morbius’ beautiful daughter, competing with one another for her affections.

Several themes coincide in Forbidden Planet, but none overwhelm the narrative. Its special effects are still stunning. Matte paintings present a much richer backdrop than CGI. While the film is not a comedy, the characters can poke fun at each other and relieve the tension at well-timed junctures.

Worth Watching?

Absolutely. The Forbidden Planet is highly recommended.

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