The Forbidden Planet

A rather corny, yet fun sci-fi movie, The Forbidden Planet is a welcome delight. The effects are primitive compared to today’s, but I still enjoyed this film. In fact, the lower quality, not at all overstimulating, effects were just fine, rather nostalgic in fact.

Starring Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Moribus, a reclusive scientist who’s lived on this remote planet for years. He came there 20 or so years ago with a group of 20 or so scientists who all died mysteriously. When the film takes place Commander Adams, played by Leslie Nielsen, ignores Moribus’ warnings to turn around. Adams’ mission is to find out what happened on a planet called Altair IV when Moribus’ colleagues all died. Soon after landing, the commander and his men (there are no female or minority astronauts in 2200) are greeting by Robbie the Robot, whom I thoroughly enjoyed. Robbie speaks hundreds of laws, can manufacture clothing, food, alcohol and who knows what else.

Robbie takes a team of Adams’ men to Dr. Moribus, where they learn about the planet’s history and all the advanced technology he’s developed or was developed by a highly sophisticated society, the Krells. Despite their intelligence and high-minded philosophy, the Krells are no more, which is mysterious.

forbidden_planet_poster

Adams and his colleagues meet Dr. Moribus’ beautiful, sheltered daughter Alta and romance ensues.

Soon the odd Moribus, who’s not about to leave the planet, comes into conflict with Adams’. On top of that, a formidable monster attacks and kills one of Adams’ men. Then the monster comes to attack Moribus’ home/headquarters.

The film was fun and swift. Robbie the Robot was a real star, and the first robot to show personality in the history of science-fiction films.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the 1956 review in the Chicago Daily Tribune and saw that the reviewer was far from amused. Sci-Fi clearly wasn’t the reviewers’ genre. Take a look at the citation to see that writer’s pen name.

Note: My friend Kevin shared an article that shows how The Forbidden Planet is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Reference
TINEE, MAE. “This Space Ship Fails to Soar Far enough.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Apr 17 1956, p. 1. ProQuest. Web. 9 June 2018 .

12 Days of Christmas Stories, #4

Doctor Who Last Christmas is an outstanding episode, that’s funny, mind-bending, and emotionally satisfying. It delivers smart science-fi that makes you think about our dreams and our dreams within dreams. We see Clara missing her boyfriend Danny, who had died (I haven’t seen that episode. I’m quite behind in my Doctor Who viewing. As usual Peter Capaldi is a frantic, whip smart and yet annoying Doctor, who usually makes a good point when you think about it.

It’s got the gross monstrous villains you expect. The twists and turns that make the plot unpredictable and moments between Clara and Danny and the Doctor and Clara that provide emotion that’s more real than what’s on a lot of television. It does a lot of questioning our dream states that was compelling.

Oh, and Santa, Santa and elves with attitude and smarts feature prominently.

You can find it on Amazon or DVD. Give it a watch!

Jellyfish Eyes

film-jellyfish-eyes

A mix of animation and live action, Jellyfish Eyes amazed me. It’s the story of Masashi, a Japanese boy whose father died in the tsunami. He moves with his mother to a new town where he befriends an otherworldly creature and soon learns that all the other children have similar strange friends that they control with remote controls and have fight each other whenever their teacher turns her back.

Mashasi’s uncle works at a mysterious lab, which turns out to be run by a nefarious group of evil scientists trying to harness negative energy through children since children’s energy is purest. His uncle opposes the mad scientists, but they ignore his warnings and pleas.

As the movie progresses,a girl befriends Masashi saving him from bullies. The girl’s mother in reaction to the tsunami and following nuclear disaster, has joined a religious cult. Thus the girl, like Masashi must parent herself. The film is unique in that shows children coping with trauma and loss. It has a powerful message of self-sacrifice and pulling together rationally in times of crisis. At the end I was stunned. As the film’s directed towards children it ends happily, but that was uncertain till the last minutes. I thought it was brave and smart to give children a chance to see such a wise, exciting and delightful film.

It offers adults the message of how technocrats and scientists gamble with our safety when they get caught up with an idea or “solution.” It’s such a different film and one old and young (as young as say 10) could enjoy and ponder.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

1The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

My friend Kevin recommended I watch The Day the Earth Stood Still for my classic movie challenge. Though I typically don’t think much of sci fi movies, I gave this one a try and it won me over. Directed by Michael Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with a cheap-looking spaceship landing on earth in Washington DC. Despite the archaic look of the film, I got pulled in completely. Wise mesmerized me with this very cheap, plain spaceship with its clichéd passengers.

A crowd gathers around the ship and soon Klaatu, the archetypical spaceman emerges. Klaatu’s soon shot and his robot Gort defends his master using laser vision against the army. Klaatu’s taken to the army hospital and observed. Klaatu is played as a very serious, really supercilious figure who’s been given the task of letting the inferior earthlings know that now that they’ve gotten nuclear weapons their squabbling could hurt other planets and these other, higher beings won’t tolerate any activity that can upset their peace. His request to speak with all the world leaders is deflected. Things just don’t work that way on earth.

Klaatu escapes in a stolen business suit and finds a boarding house that will take him in. He befriends Bobby, a boy who’s impressed with Klaatu’s knowledge of science and around novelty. Bobby’s father’s passed away and his mother isn’t so sure about Klaatu, but she’s busy dating her perspective husband so Bobby’s got lots of free time to wander the city and go back to the spaceship with Klaatu. It is all rather hokey, but Klaatu is so smart and so above us. We know he’s right about our wars and “petty squabbles.”

Klaatu gives up on the world leaders and tries to get a renown scientist to organize a big powwow with all the top scientists in the world.

Unfortunately, Bobby’s father-to-be gets jealous of Klaatu and tells the army about him. Soon Klaatu must flee for his life and try to war the world that if we don’t stop our nuclear arms development, the rest of the universe will bake us to a cinder.

There are plenty of amusing quotes, such as:

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.
Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

George Barley: Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I’d like to know.
Mr. Krull: What can they do, they’re only people just like us.
George Barley: People my foot, they’re democrats.

All in all, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fun movie and its dated aspects just add to the fun.

Fun Fact:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still won a Golden Globe award in the category of “Best Film to Promote Global Understanding.” Who knew that was a category?
  • When Patricia Neal was making the film, she didn’t think much of it and was surprised to learn that it’s regarded as one of the best sci fi movies to date.