Cyril Hume

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Forbidden Planet Review


OK
If the goings-on that take place under alien skies on the surface of Altair-4 in 1956's Forbidden Planet seem familiar, it's not just because the planet's name was recycled later for the Star Trek universe, but also because this film was the well-drunk-from by so much cinematic and televisual sci-fi of the following decades. The stalwart explorers, deserted planet, missing planetary explorers, a mysterious evil that may have a less than completely corporeal source; there's a reason that the film has been called the most influential sci-fi flick until Star Wars (actually more so, since nobody was ever really able to recapture Lucas' peculiar magic). It's unfortunate then, that as inspirational as it may have been, Forbidden Planet wasn't a better film.

Set further in the future than most sci-fi tales, the undistinguished script by Cyril Hume -- inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, especially the magician Prospero and his magical spirit agent Ariel -- takes place in the 23rd century, when the human race has finally burst the bonds of our solar system and is truly exploring space. A spaceship crew (in an actual flying saucer, a rare thing for humans in films of this sort) is on its way to Altair-4 to find out what happened to the crew of the Bellerophon, which touched down 20 years back and hasn't been heard from since. A strange voice informs the crew to land only at their own peril, which they do. Not long after landing, the crew -- led by a stalwart and spry pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen -- is taken by a friendly and nearly all-powerful robot (as in Robby the Robot, soon to grace the small screen on Lost in Space) to meet that warning voice. Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), a mysterious fellow with little use for strangers but in possession of a nubile blonde daughter who takes a shine to the first male strangers she's ever seen, is the sole survivor of the Bellerophon's crew. The others? Killed in brutal fashion by some strange and disembodied alien presence, which may just still be around to threaten the newcomers.

Continue reading: Forbidden Planet Review

Forbidden Planet Review


Excellent
You might not notice it, but 1991's Total Recall is a serious homage to Forbidden Planet (itself a rendition of Shakespeare's The Tempest), what with its ancient race of superintelligent (and extinct) beings and a lovely lass who gets the spacemen to act all googly. Of course, Rachel Ticotin is no Anne Francis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is no Leslie Nielsen, barely recognizable here in one of his first movies. Part space opera, part haunted house story, Planet's simple mystery is this: Why are there only two people left alive on a remote planetary outpost, and why don't they want our heroes to drop in for a visit? The answer is surprisingly erudite for 1950s B-cinema, and the effects are positively groundbreaking for the era (not to mention, the film introduced the classic Robby the Robot to the world). A true classic that is starting to look dated, but which still holds up well.

Tarzan The Ape Man (1932) Review


Good
Him Tarzan, her Jane. And with that, one of cinema's most enduring screen icons was born, fully formed from Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic books. Presented for your DVD pleasure is the original Tarzan the Ape Man (conveniently bundled with the other five Johnny Weissmuller "Tarzan" movies). In retrospect, there's not much to Tarzan after all. He's a handsome brute. She's (Maureen O'Sullivan) a lippy debutante with stars in her eyes. Together they make movie history as they battle lions and swing from vine-covered trapezes, but ultimately there's too little story to hold Tarzan's antics together. Countless directors would take a stab at Tarzan in the coming decades, and ironically enough it was Disney that pulled it off best in the end.
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