Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair provides astonishing evidence of a populace a million years more advanced than Earthlings. There are many wonders on Altair-4, but none is greater or mo... more »
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My evil self is at the door, and I have no power to stop it.
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's funny, me being a fan of science fiction and movies in general, why it is that it took me so long to get around to watching Forbidden Planet (1956). Part of it is I feel as if I've already seen the film, as clips from it are usually always shown whenever someone does a documentary on science fiction in film, as it's just such an influential and amazing piece of work. Now, I've heard that this movie is loosely based on Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, but since I've never read it, I can't comment on comparisons between the play and the film. The film stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, and Robby the Robot (Yes, the robot gets a screen credit. If you look on the Internet Movie Database, you'll find it's even listed as an actor).
The story is about a spacecraft sent to learn what exactly happened to a previous spacecraft and its' crew, which had been deployed many years prior, and has since not been heard from in some time. This current mission is under the command of Commander John J. Adams (Nielsen), and soon find themselves on approach to the destination planet of the now lost ship. On their arrival, they get an ominous message, from the planet, issued by a member of the original crew, Dr. Edward Morbius (Pidgeon). Despite his warnings, they land and are soon met by a robot named Robby, who escorts them to Morbius' rather posh abode. Here we learn all the members of that fated crew have been killed off, except for Morbius and his daughter (whom Morbius had when he procreated with another member of the original crew), Altaira (Francis), by some unseen, yet completely nasty, force, to which Morbius and his daughter seem immune. Not expecting to find any survivors, Commander Adams now has to change his plans to include trying to contact his superiors and receive further instructions on how to proceed, despite Morbuis' protests that they should leave as soon as possible, leaving him and his daughter behind so that he may continue his research. What is his research? Well, it seems that many hundreds of thousands of years ago, the planet was inhabited by a highly advanced race of being called the Krell, who mysteriously vanished seemingly overnight in comparison to their collective power, intelligence and abilities, and while their cities have long since gone, a great deal of their technology survived underneath the ground, and Morbius has managed to gain some understanding of these beings, even being able to pry bits of information and such in the 20 odd years that he's been here. This amazing discovery is certainly worth writing home about, and so Commander Adams begins having the men disassemble the ship to create a device powerful enough to send a message back to his superiors, and in the meantime, starts making time with Morbius' daughter, who's never seen a man outside of her father, and is uneducated in the ways of woo. Things seem to be progressing until an unseen late night attack on the ship damages some crucial elements needed for communication, so an electrified perimeter is set up to prevent the approach of any more unannounced and unwelcome visitors. We soon find out the fence works, as a huge beastie, normally invisible, now highlighted by the electrical current, tries to attack the ship, killing a few defenders. What exactly is the nature of this beast? Is it somehow connected to the Krell? Does Morbius know more than he's letting on? Will any get off this planet alive? What the heck were these Krell up to anyway?
Forbidden Planet is inspirational, in my opinion, because it presents an well developed and thought out story above and beyond the usual `scary alien' fare we saw in the early 50's. Similar to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), it brought a level of intelligence to the genre while managing to also entertain. Basically, whatever level you view the film on, it will provide enjoyment. It also hallmarked the first film appearance of Robby the Robot, probably one of the most popular, recognizable, and enduring icons in science fiction film history. Also, it is important to note, this is the first film to utilize an entirely electronically composed musical score. Stereotypical characterizations appear to create the various roles, but since the film was releases a good 14 years before I was even born, I can't help but wonder if the stereotypes started here, given the influence of the film. The production value overall is lavish and indicates little expense was spared in bringing the story to life. The special effects, even by today's standards, look remarkably good, and the realism in the matte painting backgrounds is truly spectacular. The tour of the huge underground Krell facility really stood out in my mind, properly highlighting the enormity and intricacies at the same time. Plot holes? Yeah, I noticed a few of them (like how'd Robby show up at the end despite every circuit being blown? And that self-destruct mechanism at the end...that seemed a bit convenient and lacking proper safeguards one would normally apply as to not accidentally cause it to go off), but these tend to pale in comparison to the overall film. As a whole, I think anyone would be hard pressed not to acknowledge this as one of the more influential films in the genre, and just a lot of fun in general.
Warner Brother's gets points from providing an excellent widescreen print (the DVD is double sided, with fullscreen on the flipside), but loses some in their complete lack of special features other than an original theatrical trailer. I find it pretty sad that this film doesn't rate the special features we so often see on new releases. Normally I'd be happy with a good looking print, but surely certain films deserve some preferential treatment, and this, in my opinion, is one of them. Oh well...
Stay Away from the Ultimate Edition
Bruce Aguilar | Hollywood, CA | 11/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forbidden Planet is an incredible movie and no Sci-Fi fan should be without it. The transfer on the 50th Anniversary and Ultimate Collector's Editions is incredible. I've never seen the film look so bright, crisp and vibrant. The included documentaries and bonus footage are very entertaining and not to be missed.
A word of warning though, the Ultimate Collector's Edition is a bit of a rip off. The included Robby the Robot toy was the main reason I bought this set and it's much smaller (and less detailed) than the images lead you to believe. I haven't opened mine, but it looks like it's not even articulated. Definitely not worth the extra money I had to pay. The lobby card reporductions are nice, as is the tin case, but unless you plan to display these it's hard to justify the added cost.
Be smart, skip the Ultimate Collector's Edition and buy the 50th Anniversary Edition. You'll get just the exact same transfer and bonus material without the cheap toy and lobby cards."
"Classic" Trek's Original Inspiration Finally Gets the Delux
Kenneth Keller | Kansas City, MO, USA | 11/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are now out *four* different versions of the 50th Anniversary edition of "Forbidden Planet": 2 standard (480i) DVD sets and 2 HD-DVD sets. Both formats are available as either a super-deluxe, Ultimate Collector's Edition set offered in a thick, green and red engraved hinged metal box, as well as a standard 2-disc sleeved set. Both come with lots extras, especially the metal Ultimate. I highly recommend them to everyone if you're so inclined toward lavish DVD sets. Being a longtime "Forbidden Planet" fan and collector, I'm planning on buying the other three variant sets, too, because, well, I'm obsessed with FP and by now have lost all sense of proportion when "collecting" this terrific film.
The Ultimate Collector's Edition metal box set is described on its' outer, partial card stock cover--and be careful when removing this as it's tricky and can be easily torn--as being made of a "unique metal alloy." (Hmm. Indestructible Krell metal perhaps???) Frankly, this deluxe set is everything I had hoped it would be, though I do have some quibble(see below). Overall, though, it's a beautiful package. One of the best super-deluxe DVD sets ever produced. It even includes a proper *gunmetal gray* 3.5" Robby (not black, as some supposed "film experts" have asserted for years) and a set of smallish FP lobby card reproductions in a printed sleeve. As an extra bonus for this release, you also get Robby's other 50s science fiction film "The Invisible Boy" and a set of smallish lobby card repros for it, too.
At last this science fiction masterpiece (classic just isn't good enough) has gotten the super-deluxe treatment--and complete digital restoration--it has long deserved. The digital picture and 5.1 sound are a marvel. FP has never looked or sounded this good--ever! I've seen FP on the big CinemaScope screen a half a dozen times in the last 50 years, including a very nice 50th Anniversary revival house print. Plus, I have all the earlier video/laserdisc/DVD releases. I went over to a neighbor's home the evening I purchased this set (11-9-06) and watched a portion of this new digital remastering in 480p (progressive scan) on a 1-year old, 50" plasma display home theatre set-up. It was to die for. *TILT!* Even on my standard ratio 480i home theatre it looks spectacular. I can't imagine that FP could be much better looking in the new HD-DVD format. Let's face it, you can only push the film stock of a 50-year old CinemaScope print just so far, even when reformatting from a fine-grain vault print.
While you can currently order these DVDs cheaper here, at least for the present, I decided to pay $10.00 more locally ($49.95, which included tax) for an early release just so I could have it *Right Now* and also so I could insure getting a pristine, undamaged, set. (I've had shipping/packing damage problems to the sides/edges when ordering other deluxe metal DVD sets through the mail, notably the 1933 "King Kong" and Disney "Tomorrowland" releases).
Of special note on this set are two new documentaries done especially for the 50th Anniversary release: "Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet" and "Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon." They're worth the price of this set alone, IMO. Very nicely done.
My only disappointment--and I consider it a major oversight that the material was left out--is that virtually all of the supplementary material originally included on Criterion's 1989 two-disc (CAV) laserdisc release is not here. Especially MGM's original "Fatal Planet" screen treatment that clearly showed that FP started out as just another B-grade, bottom-of-the-bill programmer and then evolved into to a first-rate A production. However, scenes (and partial scenes) originally edited out of FP (taken from Louis and Bebe Barron's surviving original film score work print) are included in this new set as an extra. In fact, to my eye, it looks like the Criterion masters were used for this DVD transfer. For most this will be the first time these "lost" scenes will be seen. So I'm now planning on having the rest of that important "Making of Forbidden Planet" laserdisc material burned on to a DVD-R and then simply include it my copy of this new release.
Frankly, I wouldn't have missed the extra "The Invisible Boy" feature that's also here, though it's obvious why it was offered in the set; or even the inaccurate 3.5" Robby miniature included--the shape of his head/carapace is wrong (too fat), among other detail problems. But that's just me. I have every confidence that this Ultimate Collector's Eition will receive high marks from both reviewers and fellow "Forbidden Planet" aficionados everywhere.
BTW, for those that might not have seen them, issues #97 and #98 (from 2003 and still available from the publisher) of the long-running film magazine FilmFax contain an authoritative two-part article: "The Making of Forbidden Planet." Both come highly recommended. This two-part article is similar in scope to the famous 20-year old "Forbidden Planet" double-issue of Cinefantastique (CFQ). While it duplicates some of the same material, there's enough new/different material in these two FilmFax issues to make acquiring them worthwhile. All three magazines taken together give an extremely thorough history of FP's creation and production. I would also refer you to another recent issue of FilmFax, #108 (#112 is the current issue out as I post this.) It contains an authoritative article on the restoration of the original Robby the Robot to his original form, done for his owner Bill Malone, by Fred Barton whose company makes a full-sized, fully articulated (and very $$$!) 1-to-1 Robby reproduction. (There's an ad flyer insert for Barton's Robby included with this new FP release.) Both Malone and Barton, with their Robbies, are seen throughout the two DVD documentaries mentioned above.
50th Anniversary Edition is a HUGE disappointment!
S. BARRY | EAST LONGMEADOW, MA United States | 11/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It saddens me to write this, as Warners did an awesome job at least in packaging this 50th Anniversary Edition of FORBIDDEN PLANET... it's what is included (and NOT included) that leads me to give this Special Edition only 3 stars at best. I hate to nit-pick, but considering that I and many others have waited since the original 1998 DVD release for a full-blown re-do from Warner Brothers, this new release leaves a lot to be desired.
First off: NO COMMENTARIES! At all! Historian Rudy Behlmer is on hand for the documentary, but no commentary??? Not even with Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, or any of the still-living actors seen in the "Amazing" documentary? How about one from at least all the modern-day special effects gurus who are also seen on the documentary? Simply unforgivable.
Second: The main documentary, "Amazing!" is a scant 25-30 minutes long! Haven't I been reading for months that this doc would be "feature-length?" Sorry folks... feature-length, to me, means AT LEAST 70 minutes long. Actors that you could have sworn had long passed, like Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman and Warren Stevens, are given scant face-time, and Anderson literally only gets about 10 seconds!!! This is "Oscar Goldman," for cryin' out loud! Oh sure, the modern-day directors, FX masters and writers fall all over themselves about the special effects and Robby the Robot, but where's the human element in all this? How did the principal actors all get involved in the film in the first place? What were their feelings during the production towards the material? Did they know it was good, or did they think it was cheesy? Did they all get along, or were all the male actors vying for the attention of Anne Francis? How was the director (Fred McLeod Wilcox) to work with... a saint, a jerk, what? This element is SORELY lacking from the proceedings.
Third: Picture quality. Yes, it's marginally clearer than the '98 MGM release, but am I the only one who thinks the picture still looks somewhat washed-out, with the infamous "yellow-layer" seemingly deteriorated? The colors just don't seem to pop right out at you, unlike most other glorious MGM releases, like SINGIN' IN THE RAIN or THE WIZARD OF OZ... reds, yellows and greens seem oddly muted. It just feels like more work could have been done for optimal picture quality. Perhaps there was no master negative to work with? Again, it could have been easily explained had a commentary track been added.
Fourth: Extras. The lobby cards are cool, but the ones for THE INVISIBLE BOY are superfluous... sure, it's neat to have the film included, but that's purely a novelty at this point. Also, the Robby the Robot action figure is a disappointment as well: It's really only a dinky, painted statue; no movable joints, and poor Robby will be dwarfed by Princess Leia if you stick him of the shelf with your other sci-fi trinkets.
All in all, it's still nice to have ANY kind of Special Edition of FORBIDDEN PLANET in your collection, and the packaging that comes with the tin case is suitably retro, colorful and fun to look at, but this new release could have been SO MUCH more. A shame. Guess we'll have to wait until 2016 and the 60th Anniversary Edition for a more substantial, well-rounded release."