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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Forbidden Planet - 50th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition. RECOMMENDED



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#1 of 27 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted November 13 2006 - 11:24 PM

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Forbidden Planet
50th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1956
Rated: G
Film Length: 98 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English & French
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $26.98
Package: Two discs/double Keepcase





The Feature:
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the heralded MGM Sci-Fi classic, Warner Brothers is set to release Forbidden Planet as a Two-Disc Special Edition with a brand-new restored transfer and a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The film is often cited as one of the most important science-fiction films to come out of Hollywood and led to Robby the Robot becoming as popular as many of the stars he shared the screen with during the period.

Commander John J. Adams (played by the straight laced Leslie Nielsen) and his crew set out to investigate the disappearance of a colony of scientists on the planet Altair-4. After landing, they discover only two survivors, Dr. Edward Morbius (played by Walter Pidgeon) and his exquisite daughter Altaira (played by Anne Francis). The Morbiuses live a surprisingly prosperous lifestyle, attended to by Robby the Robot, a super-butler who performs many impressive tasks. But lurking in the background is an invisible force -- which may or may not have been responsible for the disappearances of those scientists – and about which only Morbius knows the truth. But Morbius is not about to share his secret (or his daughter!) with anyone else.

While the first half of the film plods alongs at a rather slow pace, director Fred M. Wilcox invigorates the second half with plenty of action, as we learn of the extinct Krell – the technoligically advanced civilization that once inhabited the planet. Walter Pidgeon brings an intellectual presence to Morbius, while the lovely Anne Francis adds youth and innocence. Long before his Naked Gun stardom, Leslie Nielsen plays Commander Adams with a great amount of seriousness.

The Feature: 3.5/5
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Video:
Presented in it’s original 2.35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio (Eastman color) – enhanced for widescreen, the film looks excellent. Appreciating the importance of the film WB pulled out all the stops and afforded the film a full digital restoration.

Colors looked excellent displaying great vibrancy with solid black levels. Contrast and shadow details were equally impressive. The film has a reasonably good amount of texture and depth with only a slight amount of fine film grain. Image definition was fine, albeit slightly on the soft side.

The print was as clean as one would hope for with only minute amounts of marks or blemishes. Authoring seems to have been handled well as compression errors were basically non-existent as were any signs of edge enhancement.

Overall, a fine job.

Video: 4/5
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Audio:
This soundtrack provided has been souped up with a new DD 5.1 mix which offers a slightly more expansive soundfield. Thankfully, the track hasn’t emerged as a modern day 5.1 extravaganza. It is tactfully upgraded merely as a means of allowing the track to “open up”.

Dialogue was always bold and clear – always intelligible. The track is clean and virtually free or any hiss or other noisy distractions. There is little in the way of heft or punch as dynamics are fairly basic. Also, surrounds are used only as ambiance enhancement and don’t expect much in terms os LFE.

Audio: 3.5/5
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Special Features:
The Special Features contain a bevy of supplements most of which are contained on disc two, however the set looks like this:


Disc One:

  • Aside from the feature film, disc one contains several special features, starting with Deleted Scenes. This is a collection of deleted scenes, work prints, lost footage as well as rare test scenes. These appear in a wide variety of quality (some looking better than others), however, all of these should appeal greatly to true fans of the film.

  • Up next are a series of excerpts from the MGM Parade TV show, hosted by Walter Pidgeon who introduces the audience to Forbidden Planet and “Robby the Robot”.

  • The next supplement is Robot Client, a 1958 episode of "The Thin Man" TV series with Peter Lawford, Phyllis Kirk, and Robby himself.

  • Closing out the disc is a Theatrical Trailer Gallery that includes trailers for a number of popular sci-fi flicks including the feature film – which appears in reasonably good shape.


    Disc Two:

  • The second disc contains a number of other supplements starting with, The Invisible Boy, Robby the Robot's follow-up film from 1957. The film plays on a much different level than that of it’s predecessor, although the presentation is better than I anticipated.

  • Up next are several newly made documentaries which serve the film well. The first is entitled, Watch the Skies: Science Fiction, the 1950’s and Us (narrated by Mark Hamill), the second is Amazing: Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet and the third, Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon – a short featurette dedicated to the tinny guy himself. A number of heavy hitters appear here including the likes of Steven Speilberg, Ridley Scott, James Cameron and George Lucas. Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis also appear and offer up their comments.

    Special Features: 5/5
    [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    I have to admit, watching the Naked Gun star several decades earlier in a serious role – particularly just after watching the recently released “Police Squad” TV series - it’s now hard to picture Nielsen in anything other than comedy. Be that as it may, one can’t deny the film’s accomplishments and appreciate it for what it is as it clearly paved the way for other sci-fi franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek… just to name a couple. And really, anyone entering a 50’s science fiction flick, should realistically keep their expectations in check.

    Once again, Warner has done a terrific job with this Two-Disc Special Edition – not only in terms of the presentation itself, but the special features are both highly informative and entertaining.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
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    Recommended…!





    Release Date: November 14th, 2006
    My Top 25 Noirs:

    25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

    #2 of 27 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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    Posted November 14 2006 - 03:43 AM

    Great review as always, Herb! What did you think of The Invisible Boy? Was it any good, or just a curiosity for FP fans?

    Note to Shakespeare buffs: The plot of Forbidden Planet was inspired by the play The Tempest!
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    #3 of 27 OFFLINE   Jay Pennington

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    Posted November 14 2006 - 03:58 AM

    Thanks for the review!

    (BTW, it's Nielsen with an "e". Posted Image )
    -Jay

    #4 of 27 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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    Posted November 14 2006 - 06:12 AM

    That's what I get for proof-reading at 5:00 am - Thanks Jay.
    My Top 25 Noirs:

    25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

    #5 of 27 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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    Posted November 14 2006 - 03:52 PM

    Wasn't the film's OAR 2.55 to 1? (early CinemaScope) Also, has the panning dialogue been centered? (hope not)

    #6 of 27 OFFLINE   David_Blackwell

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    Posted November 14 2006 - 03:56 PM

    Thanks for the review, herb. This is one DVD I want to own on DVD sooner ro later. I love FP.
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    #7 of 27 OFFLINE   Jeff_HR

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    Posted November 15 2006 - 06:32 AM

    I purchased it yesterday. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I did a few minutes of quick checking. The DVD looks wonderful! I'm disappointed that no audio commentary was done for this DVD. Considering the Film's history & importance I find it a bit hard to understand.
    Cogito, Ergo Sum
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    #8 of 27 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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    Posted November 16 2006 - 06:12 AM

    I finally found a copy of the tin version of Forbidden Planet last night, some Best Buys don't put much effort in older films, only the big new films. I'm looking forward to seeing this new release, and comparing the extras to the Criterion LD version. Herb, sounds like you're not as much a fan of this film as many here, but thanks for the effort for the review. I think I saw this film as a kid on TV before Nielsen did Naked Gun, so for me, I don't associate him as strongly with that show. Surprised not more have chimed in on this thread.

    #9 of 27 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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    Posted November 16 2006 - 10:59 AM

    Unfortunately way too many stores are behaving like this. Last year when Kong was released, I went to my local Best Buy (about three hours after opening) to discover no Kong tin set, matter of fact, there was no Kong at all. I asked if it had sold out, turns out they had never bothered to put it out in the first place. I walked in to Best Buy this past Tuesday afternoon looking for the tin of "Forbidden Planet". It was not only not out on display, they never had it. I was told they were sent ONE copy of the regular two disc set. Every store I checked at that day it was the same story, they only carried current big titles and if you asked about a film over five years old they looked lost, and if the film was fifty years old they looked at you like you had two heads. That's it, I give up. I love to go out browsing for titles in stores, but why should I continue, they never have anything I want? Amazon.com got my order to me in less than 40 hours. I bought "When Worlds Collide" to go along with FP and continue the 50's Sci-Fi theme. I also purchased the '62 "Mutiny On The Bounty", another recent release that had clerks everywhere looking at me like I was from outer space. Love this edition of FP. It looks and sounds fantastic and the packaging gives this release that touch of showmanship it deserves.
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    #10 of 27 OFFLINE   Todd Robertson

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    Posted November 16 2006 - 02:18 PM

    I went in to my BB yesterday to find it and found nothing on the shelves. After a quick check of the computer, a BB dude ran to the back and rolled out a cart with about 30 copies of the tin collection. It all worked out pretty well, actually. I usually have piss-poor luck on Super Tuesday at BB.
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    #11 of 27 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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    Posted November 16 2006 - 05:30 PM

    Great timing of the major HD releases. Warner is making us BD fans wait until January or so until we can pick it up.

    #12 of 27 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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    Posted November 16 2006 - 05:31 PM

    Costco had plenty of the tins for around $42. Best Buy is pretty much a joke.

    #13 of 27 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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    Posted November 17 2006 - 08:57 AM

    Same thing with the Costco here in Charlotte, NC. They had plenty of FP tins and two disc sets ready for purchase.

    #14 of 27 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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    Posted November 17 2006 - 09:01 AM

    Shoot! I wished I checked Costco first. This is not a title I would have expected them to carry!

    #15 of 27 OFFLINE   Voranand

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    Posted December 03 2006 - 06:04 PM

    I hate to ask this everytime but my Little Mermaid experience give me little confidence. Posted Image

    My copy came with no insert (there's an advertisement insert but no movie insert). Does the disc have insert about the film?

    Great film btw, though a little too slow sometimes.

    #16 of 27 OFFLINE   TravisR

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    Posted December 03 2006 - 10:45 PM

    Nope, there's no insert like most (if not all) Warner titles.

    #17 of 27 OFFLINE   Martin_T

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    Posted December 03 2006 - 10:59 PM

    Great review Herb. My copy of FP arrived a couple of days ago, but I will probably end up not watching it until my new DVD player arrives.

    #18 of 27 OFFLINE   Voranand

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    Posted December 04 2006 - 01:27 AM

    Thank you, Travis. Guess insert, along with commentary, will soon be things of the past then.

    #19 of 27 OFFLINE   BernieV

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    Posted December 04 2006 - 03:46 AM

    Perhaps all the extras were reserved for the collectors' edition. Product differentiation, as it were.

    #20 of 27 OFFLINE   Voranand

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    Posted December 04 2006 - 02:57 PM

    That's fine by me. Just think that this edition should be special enough to warrant both insert and commentary.





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