Forbidden planet, directed by Fred M. Wilcox, takes Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and churns out a full-length science-fiction movie for the ages. The suspense is well-kept, as the film plays off more ‘Trekkie’ than science-horror through out, and it definitely isn’t horror, despite an incredible climactic action scene. It’s a tense, ‘who-done-it’ exercise, possibly inspiring the ideas behind John Carpenter’s “The Thing”.
Leslie Nielson stars as Commander J.J. Adams, along side two equally sex-hungry Lieutenants who scout alongside to explore the “Forbidden Planet”. The scouting crew finds Dr. Edward Moebius, a survivor of a lost landing-team, his wife dieing alongside every other soul in the party suddenly and still without reasonable explanation; the man has the presence of the character from “The World’s Dangerous Game”, appliance-equipped, knowledgeable, and eerily presentable. Dr. Moebius has a daughter, Altaira or “Alta” to carry out his life with, and she is the subject of desire for the lost-in-space astronauts.
Dr. Moebius tries very hard to remember how his search-party, so many hard years ago, were killed. It was like they were ripped to the ground by an invisible whip; dead, just like that. He has created many mechanisms as safe-havens to the mysterious killing-beast; one being the famous Robby the Robot, who can take anything and replicate it twenty-fold, among many things; this is comically abused by the ship’s cook, back at base, as he has Robby replicate a hill of rum. Wait: A cook in space? Retro.
The story and the secrets of the planet’s inhabitants is executed with atmospheric finesse. For me, the grainy color of the picture, the expertise of minimalistic set-design, is wonderful and highly-memorable; realistic design alongside FX can be created well, but never with the novelistic form of classic science-fiction films, like Fred M. Wilcox’s “Forbidden Planet”. When I think of 50s and 60s science-fiction, Robby the Robot and Moebius come immediately to mind. A must-see adventure on the other side of space.