Forbidden Planet (1956)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/4/11
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis

Widely regarded as one of the most important science fiction films of all time, in honor of Leslie Nielsen's passing I decided to finally sit down and watch it. JJ Adams (Leslie Nielsen) is the captain of a spacecruiser that has been sent to the distant planet Altair IV to learn what happened to an expedition that went silent twenty years ago. The planet's only inhabitants are Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his beautiful daughter Altaira (Anne Francis). Morbius warns them not to land on the planet, but Adams insists. Once on the planet, Morbius introduces Adams to his robot named Robby and discusses the technologies of an ancient and extinct race known as the Krell. As Morbius becomes increasingly annoyed by Adams' presence, an invisible monster starts to terrorize and murder his crew, in the same manner that the previous expedition was destroyed. Just what is Morbius up to? Even he doesn't know...

The film looks fantastic and features state of the art visual effects. Robby the robot seems absurd in this day and age, but he made quite an impact back in the 1950's and remains a sci-fi pop culture icon. Walter Pidgeon makes an excellent adversary and mad scientist, and his wonderful voice is a delight for the ears. The film tends to be very dialog heavy, which slows down the pace quite a bit. However, the dialog is generally intelligent and well written, which is a nice change from the ordinary. Unfortunately, where the film really falls apart is in its unimaginably barbaric 50's era attitudes, where Man's ambitions are to conquer every planet and race that it comes across in deep space. The sexual attitudes and horniness that was prevalent during the 50's and 60's is also distasteful, as everyone (save the captain) tries their best to rape the innocent and naïve Altaira. My, how the times have changed. Overall, "Forbidden Planet" is a good piece of speculative science fiction as well as a cautionary tale about science, technology, and psychology.