Friday, May 11, 2012

Forbidden Planet so classic it's the headwaters of cliche

I'm not sure how I lived this long as a fantasy and sci fi lover without knowing about the 1956 classic Forbidden Planet. It has a good story and is well paced, but mostly it is fascinating because it breaks ground for so many sci fi movies and television shows that come after it. The style of Forbidden Planet serves obviously as a template for Star Trek in the 1960s. The starship of disciplined explorers led by Commander Adams easily reminded me of the Star Trek crew led by Captain Kirk. As I watched the movie it was as if the producers of Star Trek were checking off boxes with lists of items from this movie.

The story in Forbidden Planet has mystery, a reclusive scientist, his hot young daughter, Robby the Robot, and the leftover technology from the exceedingly ancient lost civilization of the Krell. If you've watched any Star Trek, you'll certainly recognize these motifs.

The movie opens with Commander Adams and his crew reaching the paradise planet Altair-IV. His mission is to determine the status of any earlier expedition of settlers. Adams is able to make contact with Doctor Morbius on the planet and learns that all the other settlers were killed by an invisible force years ago. Only Morbius' daughter Alta, who was born on the planet, survived with him. Both claim to be immune to whatever force wiped out the other people.

Morbius is content to live so reclusively because he dislikes humanity and Earth and is also obsessed with the magnificent leftover technology of the Krell. Alta meanwhile is thrilled by the arrival of the all male crew and happily obliges their frequent advances for female company. After going through "everyone" as she says, Alta discovers that only Commander Adams is able to stimulate her. I adored the sexiness in this movie. It's G rated, but Alta is amazingly comfortable with her sexual discoveries considering it is 1956. She very much reminded me of Zev from Lexx.

Leslie Nielsen plays Commander Adams. I had only seen him in his later comedies, particularly Airplane and the Naked Gun, so it was a little odd at first to see him playing his trademark serious straight guy without being funny.

I recommend Forbidden Planet to anyone who likes sci fi. I watched a bluray version that had some of the special effects jazzed up, but it's still charmingly classic.