Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not All is Forbidden

I’ve already expressed my feelings on remakes. You can find those posts here and here. I hope I made it clear that in some cases, a remake can be a good idea. One of those cases is happening. In fact, I’ve been waiting for this revamp for roughly twenty years.

Forbidden Planet, through no fault of its own, deserves an update. And as it stands, it’s an amazing piece of work. It’s rich in sets, acting, script and special effects. What they achieved is worthy of applause. Can you tell I liked it? If you have not seen it, I urge you to have a look. The 1956 movie is widely upheld as a classic.

Before I delve into why (and what) I am excited about seeing redone, let me tell you one of the reasons I liked the original. Forbidden Planet is based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. (Which happens to be my favorite of the Bard’s collection.) Substitute a planet for an island (that sounds familiar somehow), technology for magic (hmm, perhaps it influenced me more than I realized until now), a robot servant for a captive spirit and a horrendous monster for…well, a horrendous monster (of sorts.) It works quite well.

Now, as I said, the F/X in FP are terrific. But they are limited, of course, by the technology of the age. (Which is kind of funny, considering one of the points raised by the film.) Some of it is done via animation by Disney studio. Given today’s damn-near-real F/X (meaning a combination of advanced animatronics, blue/green screen, models and Computer Generated Imagery) the bar can be raised quite high. And the original had already reached the stars. So there’s one aspect that would benefit from a remake.

It seems to me the message of the film (though not exactly steeped in unique) is now more relevant than ever. Here we are realizing dreams of our Science Fiction stories. How far can we take it? How far should we? I don’t have an answer, but FP can provide a slap in the face of the potential triumphs and dangers once more. Especially with the strides we have made since the original.

I ‘d like to see a tad more “action” put into the movie. No, I am not talking about revamping it into some shoot-em-up-let’s-see-how-many-explosions-we-can-stuff-into-two-hours type of action. Not an overkill. It’s just that the story can be rather heady. Certainly not a bad thing. If it did not have this element it wouldn’t be a masterpiece. For I hope we all know that spectacle without substance is often a waste of time. But I also know that some people have complained of the “slow parts” of FP. Thus, a little pepper of more “action” will be welcome. It isn’t as if such scenes would need to be haphazardly thrown in just for the hell of it. There are plenty of places in the script to turn up the volume a little.

I also think Leslie Nielsen should return for the new version. But this time in the role of Dr. Edward Morbius. I certainly don’t suggest him in the sense of his delightful “ridiculum” he is now known for in such works as Police Squad!/Naked Gun. He can be quite serious and dramatic. If you don’t believe me, watch his performance as Commander J. J. Adams in FP. I’m a believer in using actors from the original to be in remakes, provided that the remake is “good” and the re-casting seems appropriate. I can see Nielsen as the courteous but foreboding Morbius. I feel he would do justice to Walter Pidgeon's compelling character.

The real question, of course, is the design of Robby the Robot. To keep or not to keep? On one hand, he’s truly iconic and should not be tampered with out of respect. On the other, his goofy (said with admiration) appearance might not fit the repackaging of the movie. I’m just not sure about it. [I do know that in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (regardless of its merit or foibles) they tinkered with the famous sleek robot guardian Gort only to discover that he’s just not Gort without utilizing the original design. So now he looks just the same, only fine-tuned.] Let us hope there is a happy medium.

Lastly, and it should go without saying, they will need to keep the integrity, spirit and quality of the original. Not often achieved. But not impossible, either.

So there you have it… one of the few remakes to which I will nod in eager assent.
Unfortunately, we have to wait until 2010 to see the results. But after my double decade wait for it, it’s not so bad. Let’s hope we can say at least that much of the new movie.


Danielle Filas said...

Perhaps they can revamp the robot idea, but still take time to nod at the original design? ((shrug))
I agree- this is a great spot for a remake!

The Generic Dragon said...

A remake of Forbidden Planet is way overdue. With the release of the remade The Day The Earth Stood Still, the hope of seeing other "classic" sci-fi remade is high.

Danielle- the producers of a remade FB will certainly change and update the design of Robbie the Robot without betraying the ideal of the original. Robbie during that time was a huge media star. He starred in, I think, 2 more sci-fi films after Forbidden Planet, and was the model for the robot in the TV show Lost in Space.

Just like they changed and updated the robot for Lost in Space, so too will they change and update Robbie.

If they don't? Then let my Id catch up with me. ;) :P