J. Michael Straczynski Writing Forbidden Planet Remake
by Alex Billington
October 31, 2008
The classic 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet is next to be remade. Warner Brothers and Joel Silver have picked up writer J. Michael Straczynski, one of the starters of "Babylon 5" and writer of Clint Eastwood's Changeling most recently, as well as the recent Thor comics for Marvel, to rewrite Cyril Hume's script. Over the years, this project has been in the hands of James Cameron and David Twohy amongst many others, but only recently did it settle at Warner Brothers. The original follows a starship crew that is sent to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
Unfortunately the original Forbidden Planet is one of the few classic sci-fi movies I haven't yet seen, but that might change this weekend. Obviously the remake will have to be modernized and as long as Straczynski writes a grittier, darker kind of movie (and doesn't opt for the Lost in Space or Galaxy Quest kind of family sci-fi), I think it could turn out pretty good. Just look at The Day the Earth Stood Still remake - that looks fantastic so far and it's a completely modern update of the original. Obviously that is a bit more sacred than Forbidden Planet, but I'm still not completely opposed to this particular remake.
I do wonder if there are almost too many classic sci-fi remakes in the works right now, with The Day the Earth Stood Still being the first of the batch, followed eventually by Race to Witch Mountain, Fantastic Voyage, Flash Gordon, and so many more. It's not a terrible idea to remake old sci-fi films, but I always think back to Lost in Space, a big budget sci-fi remake that really doesn't hold up at all anymore. That is always in the back of mind and I hope especially that Forbidden Planet doesn't go down that same path. Though with Straczynski writing, I really don't think that is possible. What do you think?
Reader Feedback - 31 Comments
Its waaaay to early to tell if its gonna be worth anything.
cabbageholetv on Oct 31, 2008
I think Forbidden Planet was one of those classics that was way ahead of it's time in terms of storytelling and special effects. If a remake were to happen it might be decent but it'll never compare to the "magic" that the first one had.
Frost on Oct 31, 2008
No! The original is near-perfect. There is no need to remake it.
Vole on Oct 31, 2008
no. no no no no no. just no. even with the Babylon 5 scribe in charge. when does this stop? i think all we're missing now are remakes of Metropolis, 2001, Blade Runner and Alien and we're done. of course, remakes are an age-old route for studios to take. how many Dracula or Frankenstein films were there in the 20th Century, for example? in times of (economic) uncertainty or creative sterility, you go for the nearest thing to certainty you can find. the briefest of glances at IMDB's all time worldwide box office list (http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross?region=world-wide) will tell you that sequels pay, which is why they always get green lit. the next money-over-creativity option after sequels is a remake. #2 / Frost hit it right on the head. the reason a film is a 'classic' is because of the impact it had at the time on cinemagoers and, subsequently, how that impact has been seen and felt in films that followed, or manipulated by later directors. how many countless films owe their entire look to Forbidden Planet and Metropolis, or Blade Runner? these films made a defining imprint on cinema that has never been shaken off. revisiting them is ludicrous. should we expect a remake of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly next, or of Once Upon a Time in the West? its arguable that the upcoming Day The Earth Stood Still has a better chance than most, because many of the sci-fi films being remade now tend to be much older, from the post- WWII, cold war period, a decade or so before many of the original horror films for which studios are currently spewing remakes. 'rebooting' Halloween or Friday the 13th won't capture the effect those films had originally - they cannot, as the whole audience has shifted in its expectations and especially its tolerances. will i see it when i comes out? possibly, yes. i'm not averse to remakes per se - some have been good, and i'm sure we can all name a few, although they tend to be in the minority. but to have such a glut of constant remakes in the last decade is evident of a growing fear among studios to challenge, confound or raise audience expectations. all we get now, in the main, is a spoonfed mush of rehashed ideas, overcooked plotlines and CG over script and performance. in many ways, we are as much to blame. remaking a classic doesn't mean that you immediately get another classic, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. lumière
lumière on Oct 31, 2008
I'm not all that familiar with the original, I remember seeing it on a TV channel when I was young and learning years later that "oh, I've seen Forbidden Planet" but either way... it's JMS, what can go wrong?
BahHumbug on Oct 31, 2008
There are some interesting possibilities here. The original Forbidden Planet took the uncensored savagery of the sub-concious mind and realised it beautifully in a monster that could not be killed. One of the reasons it is a classic (apart from those superb ray-guns) was it's portrayal of the head-on clash between rational man (the space-military exploration team) and unleashed mind monster. Joe Michael Straczynski makes the sort of grand, colourful science-fiction that a remake would need, if it were to be done honorably. More importantly he delves into the deep, dark places of his protagonists, to show how their inner working fuel the things they let loose on the world, similar to the events of Forbidden Planet. In this way at least the pairing of JMS with the remake makes sense. Unsurprisingly, he is known to be an admirer of the original Forbidden Planet. Babylon 5 is a classic of American storytelling and was dark, dangerous and inspiring. If JMS were to be allowed to write (in his own inimitable way) about the darkness that the Krell machine produces from men's minds we might get a great story. I am aware that there is a long way to go before a movie evolves from this initiative but I will be watching this story with interest.
John on Oct 31, 2008
As much as I complain about Hollywood's remake fever, this story excites me. Straczynski is a big fan of "Forbidden Planet," and the machine on Epsilon 3 in "Babylon 5" was a direct homage to that film. I look forward to seeing his take on it, if nothing else.
Terry on Oct 31, 2008
This movie was awesome. I can see the scenes with the invisible monster being pretty suspenseful, especially in a modern film. Wonder who the new hot girl will be...
The Fly on Oct 31, 2008
I can see it being better than Day the Earth Stood Still, just because this doesn't deal with depressing dooms-day stuff. It's gonna be one hell of a ride if they do it justice.
The Fly on Oct 31, 2008
An excellent movie that almost holds up over time. Features Robbie the Robot, and a younger Leslie Nielson. If you're a sci-fi fan you owe it to yourself to discover a bit more about your roots and see the original.
dRailer on Oct 31, 2008
You haven't even seen the ORIGINAL?!?!? YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE ORIGINAL? Holy CRAP! Anne Francis stars in/ Forbidden Planet/ Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, ohh/ At the late night/ Double Feature/ Picture Show!/ The original remains in print long after Star Wars and other SciFi movies have gone. FORBIDDEN PLANET was an actual Science Fiction (not scifi) movie, using REAL science to move the story forward and has such a great following that it was re-released as a special 2 disc set and even tin box set (I have that one). I can't believe you haven't seen the original! And you call yourself a Cineaste! (Hock-P'Tooie!) Don't even come BACK here until you've seen the original! BAH!
Feo Amante on Oct 31, 2008
I was 5 years old when I saw this film with my father at a drive-in after it had been out for while in '56...it is MOST sacred to me...but for some reason I have no fear of a remake because after all, a remake cannot harm the original...it can only be successsful in its own right or a total waste of money...for me, there is only the original...
moldybread on Oct 31, 2008
Forbidden Planet is a masterpiece not only of science fiction, but of film. This film is far, far beyond the intellectual grasp of Joel Silver or J. Michael Straczynski to even comprehend, much less execute a worth retelling. They are so far out of their league with material of this elegance, nuance and sophistication, the mere fact they are attempting to do it proves they cannot audit themselves honestly against it. Another tragedy -- albeit a pending one -- on par with Tim Burton's unforgivably fallible The Planet of the Apes, Wolfgang Petersen's devalued Troy, and the otherwise brilliant Bryan Singer's disturbingly feminized and morally demoted Superman Returns. It is time for yet ANOTHER watchmen to scream "Iceberg, right ahead!" I love Forbidden Planet. I am not sure I can bear to watch it unceremoniously raped by Hollywood's mechanically precise, ongoing war to destroy and mutilate every classic that were so beautifully accomplished by a wiser generation of filmmakers before this one. I am saddened to my heart to hear this unfortunate news.
Accusamend on Oct 31, 2008
#13-They are so far out of their league with material of this elegance, nuance and sophistication, the mere fact they are attempting to do it proves they cannot audit themselves honestly against it. Like all good childhood memories I remember the wonder and sense of discovery that Forbidden Planet and others such as Earth vs the Flying Saucers gave me (yes, I am that old), and these modern remakes can not reproduce that feeling. The sometimes shonky sets and dialogue just meant that you used your imagination to fill in the gaps, making the stories even better. These remakes are meant for new, younger audiences. The only creative change they can go for is to raise the 'bang for buck' level, including contemporary themes to make the films accessible to a wider audience, FOTM actors and modern CGI. No magic here, move along.
nef deppard on Oct 31, 2008
I could go for this! JMS can pull this off!
790 on Oct 31, 2008
The original is great classic sci-fi. And though there are just far too many remakes lately, I'd be interested to see a modern re-telling of this movie. Visually, it would be spectacular. But it's the story and characters that shines.
avoidz on Nov 1, 2008
I watched FORBIDDEN PLANET last night, and I also want to address something my Pop, who grew up around that time, would tell me. In FB, the movie states that the men of the spaceship have been traveling for a year. You would think that they'd be at each other's throats. Cabin Fever was not uncommon and even for kids movies of ships and pirates of that era, men who'd been out to sea to long were depicted as sea-mad and cut throat. My Pop told me that audiences would watch dramas of that era and the idea that married people sleeping in separate beds - or worse - sleeping in separate bedrooms for god's sake - looked ridiculous to audiences even then (probably like sound in space appears stupid to us today). But watching a science fiction movie of future people doing these things made a kind of sense. Watching FB the audience could imagine that the good behavior and strong discipline of the crew accounted for some unknown future culture. They are from the future and so alien to us. FB accounts for this too, so when the all male crew discovers that there is only one woman on the planet - one very beautiful and naively available woman - that discipline breaks down, fights break out, and the cook, who thinks he has no chance at all, turns to alcoholism. Ah, now we recognize them. Yes, these are humans all right. There is something terrible and deadly on the planet that lives alongside Morpheus and his daughter. But we also understand why Morpheus is willing to take his chances with the creature, than subject his young and innocent daughter, Altaira, to a ship full of horny, suddenly aggressive men for a year. Anne Francis did a remarkable job of portraying Altaira as highly intelligent and remarkably wise. Yet socially inexperienced and suddenly hormonally inexperienced as all of the abrupt attention from the starship men releases unknown (and therefore) fearsome cravings in her that she can't understand. On the planet where Altaira and her father live, all she knows from things she can't understand is the unknown will kill you, like it did to the rest of the colonists. The unknown is something to be feared. Whenever she's afraid she runs back to her house and the men of the spaceship misinterpret this. They don't comprehend - at first - just how vital a safety valve her house is. And so FB was a highly developed, intricate, and nuanced tale. It also, to its credit, had NO SOUND IN SPACE! I don't see anyone out there among today's writers that can pull off something like that.
Feo Amante on Nov 1, 2008
Hey, let me amend that because film making is a collaborative effort and it's unfair of me to put it all on the writer. I don't see anyone out there among today's film makers that can pull off something like that.
Feo Amante on Nov 1, 2008
I had mixed feelings about the remake of FP, but JMS is one of a few writers that could pull it off while being respectful of the original. I'd really like to see this one do well. I've been toying with an idea for a sequel, and if the update ends on the same note as the original...
SciFiWriter on Nov 1, 2008
FB is up there is the the "day the earth", war of worlds, ok the sounds effects (stockhausen??) are similar to other movies of the day (earth to the moon............) but at the core a good story and for the time some pretty decent sfx (the shots inside planet with the scale of machines still stand up and also the invisble mosnster which as a child put the bejezasus up me for many a night in a time of safe franchise movies and remake of movies i'm old enough to remember the orginals (the hitcher......................WHY!!!!!) i am hoeful but prepared for the worst
dp on Nov 2, 2008
I too am hoeful! That's why I'm voting for Oama. Oama is all about Hoe! 😛
Feo Amante on Nov 2, 2008
Good points Terry, I didn't think about that! ^ Also Alex,,, JMS was the creator of Babylon 5. Not a starter,,, (whatever that is). Hope your watching the original Alex,,,
790 on Nov 2, 2008
The inherent problem with remaking a classic before 1970 is (and this is about 97% true, every time) is that whereas we live in a far more miraculously technological society, we have become disturbingly detached from the great chronicles of our past from which these classics were inherited. I have several friends who without a blush say “Dude, if it’s before I was born, I don’t care.” They are dull, unimaginative, boring, servile, marginally literate, icon-driven drones who understand symbols but nothing of the underlying context, let alone subtext of a masterwork or its historical significance. They are like the Eloi out of H. G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine. Dumb as a box of shrimp. The first generation of filmmakers pulled from the great classics – Milton, Shakespeare (or Edward de Vere, depending on your biases), the King James Bible, Melville, Austen, Hemingway, Poe. The second generation just repeated what the first generation did – and so on and so forth. Victims of replicative fade, the majority of the filmmakers today are aping the beauty shots and the angles, but have not a mote of understanding about human drama and how to tell a compelling story. I have no doubt the new Forbidden Planet with be shot in hi-def, color corrected glamour with a 7-point Surround Sound score and lots of hot 20-something model/actor/whatevers spewing the latest MTV fashion code – but like most things in American cinema, it will MEAN nothing. It will be chrome. It will be pretty. Unlike the brilliant original, it will have no value in educating us, exploring something wonderful, or warning us about those bone-deep grim realities we’d rather not admit to. It’s only purpose will be to distract us from the uncomfortable truth that we have become an absurd, purpose-deprived symbol culture. Don’t’ get me wrong: I love a pretty and pointless Michael Bay movie as much as the next guy. But when over 90% of the movies are just dramatic incompetence-on-display, we have to ask ourselves: wtf?
Accusamend on Nov 3, 2008
I just hope the Roddenberry heirs are still sending residual checks to the FORBIDDEN PLANET heirs, without FP there would have been no Trek.
Patron Zero on Nov 3, 2008
I can't wait until they remake Star Wars...haha. I'll the rebirth of Forbidden...
wm on Nov 3, 2008
Forbidden Planet is the Grandfather of Sci-Fi it will be interesting to see what its grandson does.
werdnafaz on Nov 3, 2008
Hey #23 Holy crap! Those are your FRIENDS? Dude! Seriously! You gotta upgrade! Friends like that will only drag you down!
Feo Amante on Nov 3, 2008
#24 Absolutely right. Star Trek (at least the original '66 television show) owes a tremendous debt to Forbidden Planet. It borders on "obscene" just how much material Gene Roddenberry lifted from this landmark film. #27 Thankfully, they represent a dwindling arc of the total sphere of friends I have. I waiting for the whole MAIL ORDER FRIENDS industry to catch up to MAIL ORDER BRIDES...then I'll be fine. 🙂
Accusamend on Nov 3, 2008
This new movie could work - it's a given that the special effects would be fantastic. It all depends on whether they can cast the right actor as Prof. Morbius. A sympathetic character, as well as the villian; a brilliant man, who couldn't/wouldn't see the truth right in front of him. Any ideas as to who should fill this role??? It could make or break the movie.
sts on Nov 28, 2008
Feo Amante on Nov 28, 2008
Who could be a BETTER Prof. Morbius than Leonard Nimoy? I would think it was OBVIOUS!
Tom Trott on Nov 19, 2009
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