Forbidden Planet ★★★

Though the aesthetic that defines classic science fiction would appear far too aggressive and escapist, their existence rarely ever comes in the form of pure hollowness, where its concepts are unfounded by reality-based themes and character developments, simply existing as consumable fluff that is made to be forgotten soon after being viewed. Many of these science fiction films prove their ambitions beyond simply the surface coat that it wears, as too the core underneath demonstrates a wealth of depth that simply requires the audience’s active engagement to discover it. Forbidden Planet is such a film that belongs in such a category.

The film immediately draws the audience away from the familiarities of present reality and transport us to the vision of the future, where travelling in the speed of light has become a feasible mode of transport and civilisation has extended beyond the confines of our humble planet. It follows a military-explorer crew of men, within their saucer-like spacecraft, led by Leslie Nielsen’s Commander Adams, to a distant planet by the name of Altair IV in order to investigate the expedition that took place 20 years ago, determining the status of its crew. Upon their findings, shades of themselves become consciously and unconsciously revealed, and an invisible threat emerges, which they would have to face in order to ensure their ability to leave this planet.

For much of the film, an extensive pathway of exposition is provided, exploring the history of the planet and the circumstances of the left survivors, and though fascinating, notably in how it slowly begins to paint a complex, but also empathetic, picture of the state of humanity, it is problematic in its mode of delivery. The film is undoubtedly clever on the utilisation of the romantic and science fiction aspects that compose the plot, but in its pacing, the film fails to create any sense of urgency, up until the final 20 minutes, where the sense of danger finally physically manifests itself and conveys these characters in such tense-inducing circumstances.

It is remarkable how the film manages to exploit its contents and somehow embed them deep into its thematic development, and it is because of this, that much of the film was compensated for its more problematic delivery and missing chemistry from its performances. The film may prove itself more fruitful upon rewatch, possibly revealing nuances that were glanced but not explored in this first viewing, but it is currently difficult to look past its flaws, a restrained sense of momentum and energy that the film sorely needed, its special effects were already impressive and its ideas were surprisingly profound, it simply needed a bit more.

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