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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/27/98



Forbidden Planet
1956 (1997) - MGM / UA

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Film Rating: A+
An outstanding SciFi classic. As innovative in its day as 2001 or Star Wars were years later.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/C+
Includes pan & scan, letterbox & 16x9, plus a trailer & some nifty-looking menus.

Overall Rating: A-
I would have liked additional extras, but the full range of viewing options makes it a winner.

Specs and Features

98 mins, G, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, pan & scan, dual-sided, Snapper packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0) and French (DD 1.0), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Close Captioned

Review

The year is 2257, and United Planets Cruiser C57D is on a years-long mission to planet Altair IV, to rescue the survivors of an expedition that vanished there. When they arrive, Commander Adams (played by Leslie Nielsen) and his crew discover that only the mysterious Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter (Anne Francis) have survived. Yet despite seemingly dire circumstances, Morbius has built a virtual paradise, with the assistance of his futuristic servant, Robby the Robot. And when Adams informs Morbius of his orders to collect them and return to Earth, an invisible force begins attacking his crew. Morbius resists further, and Adams and his men discover his shocking secret: alien technology of unimaginable power, capable of advancing mankind beyond belief... or destroying them entirely.

A science-fiction version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Forbidden Planet is a landmark classic of the genre. Directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox and filmed in spectacular CinemaScope, it had a tremendous influence on nearly every SciFi film that followed. Pigeon is terrific as the brilliant, but egomaniacal Dr. Morbius. And it's easy to forget, that long before the Naked Gun films, Leslie Nielson made quite a name for himself in serious acting roles. With great special effects, innovative production design, and an eerie electronic score, Forbidden Planet is not to be missed.

One of the most exciting (and often overlooked) benefits of DVD, is the way the format breathes new life into classic films. Most people have only seen films like this on late-night TV or VHS. If that's the case, prepare for a treat: the DVD version of Forbidden Planet really shows its full glory. You have the option of viewing the film in 2.35:1 letterbox on side A. Or flip the disc over, and watch the full screen, pan & scan version on side B. Best of all, the disc is enhanced for 16x9 displays, which is where the film really stands out. The soundtrack is only in stereo, so don't expect thrilling surround effects here. But the film's all-electronic musical score was the first of its kind, and is interesting in its own right. The disc has 30 chapters, and its features are accessed via some really spiffy-looking graphic menus. There's also mono sound in French and Spanish, subtitles in English, French and Spanish, and a hilarious theatrical trailer as well (just watch it and you'll see what I mean!). Total running time is 98 minutes.

Bottom line

This disc is a real treat, and a good deal for about $20. Highly recommended for fans of science-fiction and classic film alike.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




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