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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Pan&Scan
  • Dual Sided
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, English - Hearing Impaired, French - Hearing Impaired, Spanish - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

Forbidden Planet

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . PG . NTSC

  Feature
Contract

Is there anything more fun to do on a Saturday afternoon than curling up on the couch and getting down to a ‘50s sci-fi flick? Well, there probably is for those who possess meaningful lives, but for us couch spuds releases such as Forbidden Planet beat a round of boring old golf any day.

Like all the best old sci-fi flicks, Forbidden Planet is filled to bursting point with wonderfully preposterous imaginings of the human race’s future, and gloriously dodgy but loveable special effects. A litany of fabulously stilted nerdy dialogue gives us talk of vectors and view plates rubbing shoulders with more primary coils, polarities and parsecs than you could shake your average Trekkie at. It also has quite the fun little future tale to unfurl upon us...

In the final decade of the 21st century (at least they future-proofed this one), humans colonised the moon. After finally getting this notch on their collective space belts, they decided to cast their net wider – exploring deeper space in attempts to leave no planet untouched by their grubby little mitts. However one such sortie into the unknown resulted in the apparent disappearance of the entire crew of the Belerophon, and so the United Planets Cruiser C57D (which looks remarkably like a flyer saucer a la Mars Attacks!), captained by Commander JJ Adams (hmm, perhaps that should be commanded by then? Anyway, he’s played by a rather young and dashing Leslie Nielsen) and chock full of strapping young white men, has been sent to their last known whereabouts, the planetary system Altair 4, to suss out just where these folk disappeared to.

They touch down on the planet, and soon discover who turns out to be the sole survivor of the Belerophon – one rather Shakespearian dude in the form of Dr Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), who is a philologist no less (no, that doesn’t mean he collects stamps, he actually digs language and stuff like that). Morbius is certainly quite the clever clogs, having built his own robot, the very funky and quite polite (he doesn’t excuse himself after burping, but we’ll forgive this one transgression of etiquette) Robby, who looks pretty much akin to how you’d imagine the results of a dirty weekend between the Michelin man and a sardine can may turn out. Now Morbius isn’t exactly jazzed at the arrival of the visitors, however they’re seemingly too busy drooling over his daughter, Alta, to notice (if the continuity sounds a bit warped, she was the offspring of the doctor and his wife, born on the planet before the latter’s death). When strange things start happening on the old C57D and people start popping their space boots left right and centre, it’s up to Commander Adams and his faithful doctor sidekick to get to the bottom of what’s going on, which seems suspiciously alike to the fate that befell the crew of the Belerophon. But fear not, there’s still plenty of snogging time as well...

  Video
Contract

Anybody still living in some sort of fanciful fairyland world which leads them to believe that pan and scan transfers are preferable to having films presented in their correct cinematic ratios, as well as those who realise that the latter is always preferable, should be pleased with this release, as it gives a choice of both. Yes, you can watch the entire film in lovely 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced widescreen, or only around two thirds of it in pan and scan – it’s your choice, as whichever way up you stick the disc in your player determines which version you get. What a shame it’s only another NTSC release in a country whose adopted standard is PAL then. Need it be stated how stupid this is yet again?

Anyway, if you’re equipped for NTSC playback you should be well pleased with what’s on offer, as long as you keep firmly in mind that this is a film that dates back to 1956. As such the film displays a cavalcade of alien invaders that were never in the script. There are specks aplenty and reel change markers, along with quite some amount of grain (select the pan and scan version and you can amplify that by a sum of, erm, mega-lots). At times colour tends to vary a little, although it is pretty good and is accompanied by pleasing blacks. Detail is never particularly great, and there’s a touch of aliasing at times, most notably on Robby’s little Robby-mobile thingy.

Needless to say, being a double-sided disc there is no layer change.

  Audio
Contract

The English soundtrack is encoded in stereo, not that it really exhibits anything much in the way of separation. It’s all pretty much as clear as you would expect for such an old film, synch poses no dramas and dialogue comes through clearly despite a bit of hiss at times and the odd Rice Bubbles-like aural invaders which pop by.

The movie doesn’t feature a musical score as such, rather “electronic tonalities” courtesy of Louis and Bebe Barron. Imagine a couple of people let loose in an early ‘80s video game arcade, with a few Theremins in tow for good measure, and you should have a fair idea of what to expect.

  Extras
Contract

If you were hoping for all manner of wonderful bonus features, get used to disappointment. The motionless, silent menus offer but one, a theatrical trailer. Quite lengthy at 3:45, it is in its correct cinematic ratio and is even anamorphically enhanced. It isn’t in particularly wonderful shape, however is worth a look for the voiceover which somehow manages to be restrained yet strangely hyperbolic.

  Overall  
Contract

The video may not be fabulous, however it is still pretty good all things considered, and seeing a flick like this in glorious 2.35:1 vision is truly a sight to behold. Audio is serviceable enough, and extras – well, the lack of them sucks space balls basically.

If you’re after a break from today’s whiz bang effects extravaganzas, and fancy a bit of a fab fifties sci-fi diversion, you could do a lot worse than giving Forbidden Planet a spin on your trusty old Klystron monitor. Just think, if not for this Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space series may never have come into existence...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1849
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      And I quote...
    "Vectors and view plates rub shoulders with more primary coils, polarities and parsecs than you could shake your average Trekkie at..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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