PLANET (TWO-DISC 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION) (1956)
Forbidden Planet (Two-Disc 50th Anniversary Special Edition) (1956)
Actors: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens,
Directors: Fred M. Wilcox
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen,
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 2
- Available Subtitles:
English, Spanish, French
- Available Audio
Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
- Additional Scenes
- Lost Footage
- Excerpts from THe MGM
Parade TV Series
- Two follow-up vehicles
starring Robby the Robot: 1958 MGM feature film The Invisible Boy and
The Thin Man TV Series Episode Robot Client
- TCM original
documentary "Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us"
- "All-new Amazing!
Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet" featurette
- "Robby the Robot:
Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon" featurette
- Science-Fiction Movie
special two-disc DVD re-release of Forbidden Planet
might as well be called the Robbie the Robot Omnibus as it also includes
two follow-up vehicles featuring the iconic robot character (see cover)
introduced by the classic 1956 sci-fi movie. They are the feature-length
film The Invisible Boy and an episode titled Robot Client from the
Thin Man TV series.
The Thin Man episode is entertaining in a way only such naive
entertainments from the era can be (the plot also make no sense when one
thinks about it). In it a detective investigates a murder at a mansion in
which Robbie the Robot is the prime suspect. But how can it be if the robot
has no intelligence (at least in this TV episode) and is remote controlled?
Unlike Forbidden Planet which was, like Stanley Kubrick's
2001: A Space Odyssey, a big-budgeted Technicolor
MGM production, The Invisible Boy was a cheap Black & White
knock-off, no doubt designed to cash in on Robbie the Robot's unexpected
popularity amongst small boys. A pastiche of 1950s science fiction movie
clichés it features a rampant giant computer (as in
Gog), government big-wigs and military types being mind-controlled by a
mechanic device (Zontar the Thing from Venus)
and so forth. The Invisible Boy however tests the viewer's patience
as one if often tempted to fast forward through dull scenes. Hardly
essential viewing, unlike Forbidden Planet itself.
Then again, not many pre-Star Wars sci-fi
flicks got the big budget cinemascope treatment that Forbidden Planet
Hugely influential (it practically provided the template for
Star Trek, which came a decade later)
Forbidden Planet may have dated in the half century since its original
release, but at times its special effects are so unexpectedly well done that
one feels like hitting the Pause button on the DVD remote to savior them.
Scenes set in outer space and the giant monster at the end would remain
cutting edge, even right into the late-1980s despite advances in effects
- about a
spaceship crew sent to investigate what happened to an earlier colony ship
and only finding two survivors, an enigmatic scientist and his daughter (see
where Trek got its ideas from?) -
is also an intelligent updating of Shakespeare's The Tempest, mixed with
when all else fails to impress the viewer there is always Anne Francis
providing prime 1950s cheesecake, prancing about in skimpy outfits. The
soundtrack "music" consisting of electronic noises though may have come
across as suitably futuristic in its time is merely annoying today.
THE DISCS: Those
special special effects I mentioned are restored in a pristine near perfect
image quality. The sound (remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1) is serviceable.
Sci-fi geeks will of course go gaga over the TCM documentary Watch the
Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us which features luminaries such
as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Ridley Scott as talking heads.
Forbidden Planet is one of the few "historically important" movies which
are not deathly dull for modern audiences today and rather enjoyable on its
own terms and not as a film school lecture. Younger audiences will also be
surprised to see Leslie Nielsen of Naked Gun fame in a serious
leading role. Yes, Leslie too was young once and played in straight
non-comedic roles too . . .
improvement over the earlier DVD release of this film. Fans of 1950s science
fiction should well to seriously consider purchasing it even if they do
already own the previous version.