Forbidden Planet (1956)

Forbidden Planet PosterLeslie Nielsen is Commander Adams, the skipper of a starship headed to the distant planet Altair-IV. The mission is to investigate what happened to a spaceship full of busy bodies that disappeared there about 20 years ago.

Once near the planet, Adams and his crew pick up a transmission from a man identifying himself as Dr. Morbius. Morbius radios that everything is A.O.K., everybody else is dead, and there’s really no reason why Adams and his crew should land and investigate everyone’s mysterious disappearance. Commander Adams though is well chosen for his job because he smells something fishy and it isn’t Cookie’s space tuna surprise!

Adams and crew land on Altair-IV and are immediately met by a giant black robot driving a shuttle bus. It’s nice that even on a planet as underdeveloped as Altair-IV, they still recognize the need and the benefits of mass transportation.

The robot is named Robby. Robby says that he can speak 187 languages just in case Adams doesn’t understand English. Adams understands English enough to hop a ride with Robby and two of his crew mates back to Robby’s secret hideout. There we are introduced to Dr. Morbius, a scientist prone to wearing an unflattering dark pants with no belt and puffy shirt with no tie combo.

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He explains that Robby can pretty much do anything. Naturally, Commander Adams is worried that Robby is going to whip his ass and make him look bad in front of the men so Morbius explains that even though the robot will do whatever Morbius tells him, it will not harm humans.

Morbius demonstrates this by taking Adams’ blaster, giving it to Robby, and telling Robby to atomize Adams. Robby can’t do it, but it makes you wonder just how smart Adams is that he would let a guy who previously stated he couldn’t guarantee Adams’ safety, let his robot try to shoot him. Is that what they’re teaching in Starfleet Academy nowadays?

After Morbius proves that Robby is harmless and Adams proves that he is a complete idiot, they get down to brass tacks as Adams insist on knowing what happened to all the others.

Morbius continues to give a vague explanation, but as for Morbius, he’s made a good life for himself. He’s got a nice split-level hideout with impenetrable shutters, a robot man-servant and a super hot space daughter named Altaria!

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Later, Adams and his right hand man Doc meet up with Morbius in his secret lab and are given a tour of the remnants of the Krell civilization that previously inhabited the planet.

The Krell, we would learn through a very long and drawn out lecture from Morbius, were really advanced and built a buttload of machinery that still runs beneath the surface of the planet.

They also built a machine you can strap on to your head that makes you smarter. Morbius has used it and is now super smart and super egotistical.

He proclaims that he and he alone will choose which Krell inventions will be released to the public since he’s the only one smart enough to decide. Sounds good to me. I’m too busy watching football and playing videogames to worry about such things. We can leave the tough decisions about our lives up to scientists and our elected leaders. That never fails, right?

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Adams also has to contend with attacks by a giant invisible creature. He and Doc decide to see if one of them can use the Krell Brain Pump to get smart enough to figure out what’s going on.

Adams says he’ll be the one to use it, but he gets distracted when he sees Altaria and talks to her for a few hours before he realizes that Doc is gone.

Doc shows back up being carried by Robby and the marks on his head make it clear that he has been using the machine. He’s dying, but as all self-sacrificing people do, he makes a dying declaration that clears everything up.

Despite a dearth of action and Adams being mostly a dimwitted dolt, Forbidden Planet is rightfully remembered for its special effects and story (based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest) that’s a cut above the usual sci-fi fare of the day.

At a time when science fiction movies were openly anti-commie propaganda like Red Planet Mars or secretly anti-commie propaganda like Invaders From Mars and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Forbidden Planet dared to say through the character of Morbius that the scariest threats and most dangerous monsters do not come from external sources but reside within each and every one of us, even us smarty-pants types.

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But Forbidden Planet may have been hinting at much more as well! Depending on how much you want to read into things or how dirty a mind you have, Morbius also had an unnatural attachment to his daughter, even going so far as to visualize her when he’s demonstrating the Brain Pump!

Some of what his subconscious mind is up to may be that he doesn’t want anyone to come and take his little girl from him because he loves her and doesn’t want to be left alone again, like he was when his wife died.

Does that make Robby the Robot the manifestation of the doctor’s desire to be physically powerful, to be strong enough to protect his little girl and to dare I say, please her? Or Robby could just represent a guy who’s too lazy to do his own hosuework. Beats me – my Brain Pump is in the shop.

Regardless, Forbidden Planet is good clean retro-futuristic fun for the whole family. (Especially for lonely dads and their smoking hot daughters!)

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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