Forbidden Planet (1956)
"A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has."
There's a certain charm to older movies, before everything was CG this and cookie-cutter that. Visions of the future in comparison to today seemed as though they where far more out there in relation to the times, with flying saucers and more grandiose thoughts of technology. Forbidden Planet has this charm and imaginative wealth, and it really is a nice change of pace from the modern science fiction where everything seems so functional and slightly modern. Back in the 1950's the future looked so alien .
Our story begins with a starship from Earth led by Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) arriving at the planet Altair 4, where he and his crew are to find out why communication with the colony there has ceased. When they go to land, they are warned by a Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) to turn back, as some unknown danger awaits on the planet. Being a contingent of brave space-travellers that they are, Adams lands anyways, and ends up being led to a meeting with Morbius by Robby the Robot so he can figure out just what is going on there. At that meeting, Adams, Doc Ostrow (Warren Stevens), and Lt. Farman (Jack Kelly) meet not only Morbius who elaborates to us more about Robby and how he functions, but also Morbius' daughter Altaira (Anne Francis).
The plot continues on a bit, with the starship crew setting up a bunch of devices to communicate back with earth, only to find a crucial component destroyed the next morning by something no one saw. The team of Doc and Adams goes back to Morbius to see what he might know, only to find him not in his study with no exits but the one they watched. As it would turn out, Morbius has a secret door in the study, and it is at this point Morbius shows off some of the technology of a race that existed long before humans and suddenly without warning went extinct. Later that night, the crew of the starship is on full alert, making sure that on this night everything goes as planned. Radar sweeps, and the crew starts firing their lasers, and when it finally gets to the perimeter of their ship, we see the outline of a snarling vicious creature.
As it turns out, it was dangerous to do and the Doc ends up dying in the process of relaying the knowledge gained to Adams. The beast, it is learned when Morbius provides a translation to the word, is actually a literal figment of the imagination. The subconcsious mind of Dr Morbius has created the creature, which is feeding off of the energy from the Krell technology, and if something isn't done about it the crew and Altaira will meet the same end of the Krell civilization.
The movie is a bit dated in terms of a few things, but nothing more than what would be expected from such an older movie. The audio, for example, isn't as crisp as one would expect of more modern movies, and the general aesthetic of the colors (although wonderful) are also a bit dull in comparison. This shouldn't detract much from the overall enjoyment of the movie, but I know that it does make a difference to some so I feel the need to call it out. Effect wise, the movie does an amazing job - both with scenery and overall effects. Although shooting lasers from hair-dryer looking guns is nothing new, the aforementioned reveal of the invisible beast as it enters the perimeter field is stunning (especially when taking into account the age of the film), and the Krell devices all have a wondrous look about them. That being said, I also feel that they did a fine job of making all this future technology look more fantastical, more alien than can be found in a lot of modern future-setting movies.
The actors do a great job at their parts, although admittedly I had a hard time telling members of the crew apart - I can only imagine it was intentional, but they all look so incredibly similar to one another that outside of two or three I just couldn't make heads or tails of them. Anne Francis does a wonderful job playing Altaira as well, and makes the character really feel as though she hasn't had any human interaction in a very long time. Even Robby does a great job, and although it might be a bit stiff for members of the younger audience who've grown up on CG, the mechanical details and feel to him just tickle my fancy.
There could be a lot of theoreticals applied to this movie too, whether that was how it was intended (which I believe it was) or not. For a lot of movies in modern times, they tend to be a bit shallow as far as depth of thought that can be placed into them (at least, a lot of the movies I watch). For one example, a minor part where a tiger (that had been friendly before) to Altaira later attacks her (and is dealt with by Adams), and she wonders why it didn't recognize her. As the viewer, we could think of it as the simple change of wardrobe, or instead maybe it's how she's becoming more like a normal human through her interactions with the crew and it's off-putting to the Tiger's natural instincts. Of course, we also get a small sense of "with great power comes great responsibility" during the course of the plot too.
Overall, the movie does some rather entertaining things: backdrops can be downright beautiful and the depth of the flick is more than just a standard movie affair. We get a unique glimpse into the future, when man is the one's driving the flying saucers, and stare in wonder about possibilities that might be out there. The movie might be a bit dated, and it might drive some people off from watching it, but if you can't appreciate older cinema, then it's hard to fully elaborate just what you might be missing out on - even if it isn't for everyone.