It’s been four weeks since the last sci-fi film was featured as the Classic Cinema Wednesday selection, and considering how absolutely awful that movie (Robot Monster) was it is a miracle that I decided to dip back into the classic science fiction genre. I’m glad I did though, as this week’s selection is a really good sci-fi movie.
The Forbidden Planet stars Leslie Nielsen as John J. Adams, Commander of United Planets Cruiser C57-D. He and his crew are traveling to a distant planet, Altair IV, to find out what happened to the expedition that went to the planet some 20-years earlier. When they get in orbit, they receive a warning message from the previous expedition’s linguist Dr. Edward Morbius. Basically he says stay away and that assistance isn’t required. Naturally, Commander Adams isn’t having any of that and request landing coordinates anyway; and thus the cruiser lands on the planet.
The crew is greeted by a weird robot known as Robby the Robot who takes them to see Dr. Morbius. Dr. Morbius has a pretty sweet home on the planet; it’s a very nice set up. He tells Adams how the crew of his (Morbius’) ship was killed by some planetary force; only Morbius, his wife (deceased by the time Adams and crew arrive), and his daughter Altaira survived. Eventually Dr. Morbius invented Robby the Robot, who is perfectly harmless since a robot’s big programming rule is that it can’t harm a human.
Dr. Morbius has been researching an ancient civilization that mysteriously died out about 200,000-years ago called the Krell. These beings were highly advanced, and Morbius has been studying in and using one of their massive and fully functional laboratories. Morbius shows all of this to Adam’s and a couple of his crew members because the cruiser sabotaged and the crew has been being attacked by something big.
Altaira is fascinated by other humans, since she’s never seen any other people before. Eventually, and it’s a movie so naturally, she falls in love with Commander Adams. Her dad isn’t a big fan of this, and that’s when the big bad monster comes after Adams, Altaira, and Morbius who all take refuge in the Krell facility. Morbius orders Robby to kill it, but Robby can’t because Robby knows the truth of the creature which I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t seen the film before.
This was actually the first Leslie Nielsen film I’ve seen that isn’t a goofy comedy. I love his comedies too, but I didn’t know he made non-comedic films (I know, I suck). He gave a really good performance in this science fiction film though, and now I both have more respect for him as an actor beyond comedy and have a desire to see his other non-comedies.
If you haven’t seen The Forbidden Planet, give it a watch as soon as you can if you care for science fiction. It was so nice to see a 1950’s sci-fi film involving a robot, and technically a monster too, that didn’t absolutely suck. The acting is good, the plot is good, the robot (a famous one) is good, the score is good… it’s all good (and I’ll admit that that was surprising to me).
I can’t quite give this one four stars, but it’s good enough where if we dealt in half stars it’d be an easy 3.5. Watch it, especially if you only know Leslie Nielsen as a comedic-actor.
The Forbidden Planet gets a three out of five: GOOD.