Straczynski Promises His Forbidden Planet Remake Will Be Unique

December 1, 2008
Source: MTV

The Forbidden Planet

When it was announced that J. Michael Straczynski was writing a remake of the classic 1956 sci-fi film The Forbidden Planet, the response was highly negative. I tried to defend it, but without any actual details to go off of, it was a challenge. However, MTV talked with Straczynski recently and got some rather juicy details out of him. While he didn't exactly reveal a lot, he did finally say some things that actually make me confident that this remake won't being butchered by Hollywood. Straczynski is no newcomer to sci-fi, being the creator of "Babylon 5" and writer of comic books like "Silver Surfer: Requiem", and it seems more and more apparent that he is the perfect guy to bring us an updated Forbidden Planet.

Straczynski told MTV that "I've always wanted to do something involving Forbidden Planet. It's my favorite science-fiction film of all time." The rights were moving between companies, so he told Joel Silver to pick it up and he'd write it. "It's the dream of a lifetime to play in that universe." And how did he convince Silver that his version would be worthwhile? "I told Joel this is how you do Forbidden Planet without pissing on the original that no one has ever thought of. When I told [the idea] to him, his eyes lit up. It's not a remake. It's not a reimagining. It's not exactly a prequel. You'll have to see it. It's something that no one has thought of when it comes to this storyline." Unfortunately that means we've got to wait, too.

When asked about the retro look of the original film and whether it'll translate to this, he corrects MTV saying that the original wasn't actually retro. "At the time it was made it was cutting edge. They weren't trying to be 'retro' — they thought they were right on the cutting edge. People that went to see that film saw things they had never seen before. What we have to do now is have this one be as innovative now as the original was then. It doesn't mean we should look backwards." That task of innovating the look is left up to the director, so Straczynski doesn't have much more to add on that front. And unfortunately Warner Brothers and Joel Silver haven't actually chosen a suitable director for this yet.

In the original, a starship crew is sent to investigate what happened to a colony of settlers on a planet only to find two survivors. It turns out that the race of aliens on the planet, called Krell, destroyed themselves and left their technology intact some thousands of years in the past. So in regards to the Krell, Straczynski says he's been doing extensive research. "[When coming] up with the Krell backstory and who they are, I sat down with some of the nation’s best minds in astrophysics and planetary geology and A.I. and asked them — based on what we know now — what will a million years from now look like? The goal is to put things in there you've never seen before." I, for one, can't wait to see what Straczynski has come up with.

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I think I've died inside a little.

Tom Dearsley on Dec 1, 2008


I can't let the bad guys win! Our children can't be raised in fear!

Angry Frank Drebin on Dec 1, 2008


Fantastic. Looking forward to this one. Although I can't make ANY sense of this particular story. Not a 'remake', 'reimagining', or 'prequel'? That leaves only 'sequel', if I catch his meaning. When did Hollywood lingo turn into a whole separate language?

McScottsonfelds on Dec 1, 2008


Let me say it again... J. Michael Straczynski's work does not reflect the level of literacy required for a truthful and meaningful adaptation of Forbidden Planet. And guys, this is not just about J. Michael Straczynski -- this is a general indictment against modern literacy in general, across the board, television to music to motion pictures. J. Michael Straczynski writes popcorn fluff and that's great: I love the popcorn. I love Michael Bay and all the other makers of pretty, pointless movies. The reason why the majority (90% or more) of these re-makes and re-imaginings of classics fail is because the basic level -- and by "basic" I mean the fundamental stuff -- of storytelling in Hollywood has long since atrophied, replaced by an unapologetic greed for the bottom line. Of course Hollywood obsesses about the opening weekend -- their films don't MEAN or SAY anything, and thus, don't have "legs" to bring in a decent return several weeks and months out. Forbidden Planet, as everyone knows, was written by Cyril Hume and Allen Adler from the novel by Irving Block. The movie is an ethical and moral tour de force that, let's face, does even draw a blush from anybody living in America of the 21st century. The reasons why these classic films work is because they are drawn from classic literature and written by classic writers/scriptwriters. In our gaudyt, neon, vision-obsessed, symbol-culture we (as the audience) are out of touch with good stories and what they are SUPPOSED to do to us when we watch them. As a result, the standard brigade of Hollywood hacks who just recycle the last trite failure or hi-def flop (themselves incapable of depth) just pander to our dull wits. Drama is clearly no longer welcome or respected in Hollywood. Given J. Michael Straczynski's work to date, there is no reason to expect anything other than tinsel from tinsel town. You know, there's a reason it's called that. Tinsel is the meaningless, shredded foil that hangs on a holiday tree to make it more commercial. J. Michael Straczynski is out of his league. Give him something he can handle, like Daredevil or the Buggaloos. Accusamend

Accusamend on Dec 1, 2008


Bablyon 5 was a fantastic, inspired, and cohesive catalog of work that JSM poured his heart and soul into. I can't think of a better person for the job.

YK on Dec 1, 2008


Somebody summarize that crazy-long post. No way am I reading it myself.

Sabrecat on Dec 1, 2008


Listen I loved the original and worry about a crappy remake but come on "an ethical and moral tour de force" it was a fun and wonderful scfi movie. You make it out like it is some sacred bible text. Its just a movie for gods sake. Movies have evolved to something different than the way we want to remember them by. It's like music as you grow older the young kids are listening to things you no longer care about. It is a fact of life and they make pictures to relate to these new generations. They can still be crap ! We need to trust that it will be entertaining a little of both...for us and them.

Fujirich on Dec 1, 2008


#6 You did summarize my point -- laziness. #7 Absolutely, films evolve. Everything does. By "ethical and more tour de force" I simply mean the film was absolutely saturated with well constructed, rich and convincing consequences that were buttressed my well-conceived ethic and moral processes. The film's strength stems from intelligent conflicts, not just 90 minutes of busty teenagers trying to act around Mtv soundbites. Thus, it is beyond the realm of J. Michael Staczynski. Accusamend.

Accusamend on Dec 2, 2008


i always wanted to see the krell and more of the technology but i suppose my minds eye created the best illusions for me.

WERDNAFAZ on Dec 2, 2008


Already they are talkiing to certain people for certain roles. Viggo Mortenson Paul Walker, Orlando Bloom, Keifer Sutherland, Steve Innes, Simon O'Brien (both Aussies) Wentworth Miller, Jared Leto, possibly Val Kilmer (as the robot?) and a few others I didn't catch. So girls so far - I'm sure there was at least one girl in the original. I'm suprised Sam Worthington (another from Perth Aussie like Innes) has not been approached yet, as he seems to be to current go-to guy for sci-fi epics. Please don't let it end up like lost in space - it deserves the chance to be great and the possible cast assembled so far certainly has the makings

Renee on Dec 2, 2008


"People that went to see that film saw things they had never seen before. What we have to do now is have this one be as innovative now as the original was then." that's the logic that gave us the star wars prequels...sometimes nostalgia is the way to go. kirk wears gold 'sall i'm sayin.

fanboy d on Dec 2, 2008


that said, tdtess (best acronym everrrrr!!!) looks okay

fanboy d on Dec 2, 2008


the planet was called Altair. the ancient race that once lived there were called The Krell.

ballyhoo on Dec 2, 2008


Changeling and They marched into Sunlight are "popcorn fluff"? Wow. Remarkable notion of "popcorn fluff". And I for one haven't seen busted teenagers in B5. Maybe you've got him mixed up with someone else?

nobody on Dec 2, 2008


as a die hard fan of the original (which I saw with my father at a drive-in theater when it was first released) I dont really see this being offensive in concept...should turn out rather well if they live up to the ideas they are talking about for it...

moldybread on Dec 2, 2008


Perhaps you missed the B5 JMS episode which dealt with whether a killer, mindwiped, who later became a priest never knowing his past, can atone for sins he doesn't remember..and whether or not those who seek revenge against him are justified if that person no longer exists. Or the episode which dealt senstiively with all the various religions of B5. Or the episode that showed an alien race that refused to acknowledge a disease ravaging its people because it was seen as having come from "immorality" and whose self-imposed ignorance ended up wiping out their entire race. Or the episode that introduced a healing machine that could transfer one person's life energy to another to save that person...but at the cost of that person's life as a form of execution, and when it's ethically right or wroing to use that machine. There were, literally, dozens more, all by JMS, all raising those sorts of issues. B5 was all ABOUT moral and ethical questions. Not a busty teenager in sight anywhere.

somebody on Dec 2, 2008


@somebody "Passing through Gethsemane" is my favorite B5 episode. I can only assume that poster Accusamend confuses JMS with someone else, otherwise I can't imagine where the "busty teenagers" comment is coming from. There are no busty teenagers in JMS' work I'm aware of, much less busty teenagers dancing around MTV clips. Joss Whedon perhaps - but then the assessment would still be unfair. JMS has minored in literature and philosophy. He knows classical literature as well as moral and ethics very well.

nobody on Dec 2, 2008


"It's not a remake. It's not a reimagining. It's not exactly a prequel." But it will defininately be a cash-in. If it has none of the imaginings of the original then why use the name? I loved JMS' work on B5, but some things should just be left the hell alone, and Forbidden Planet is one of them.

nef deppard on Dec 2, 2008


"If it has none of the imaginings of the original then why use the name?" Because it's set in the same universe? Notice how he said it's *not exactly* a prequel (as opposed to: *not* a prequel), and that he was working on ideas about the Krell society. " some things should just be left the hell alone, and Forbidden Planet is one of them." Guess it's a little late for that. Reportedly he said at LosCon last weekend that the first draft has already been turned in.

nobody on Dec 3, 2008


#19 Because it's set in the same universe? Notice how he said it's *not exactly* a prequel (as opposed to: *not* a prequel), and that he was working on ideas about the Krell society. Then it's a cash in on the name. Like I said.

nef deppard on Dec 3, 2008


I have always loved Forbidden Planet; not only for the 'special effects, but, the story line. However, the film is quite dated in respect to some of the film's characters. The 'Blonde Bimbo' daughter, the alcoholic cook, etc. A reasonable, well balanced re-make would be difficult to do. Common pitfalls are as follows 1. All tech, no script. 2. The Xena female warrior - overcompensation for aforementioned Bimbo. 3. Obnoxious children e.g. any Spielburg film. 4. SciFi becomes Bloody Horror film. There are more, but, you get the point. Incidentially, name one re-make equal to or better than the original.

SciFi Lover on Dec 21, 2008


the origin of "forbidden planet" lies in shakespeare's "the tempest".

ruben canonizado on Jan 31, 2009


"SciFi Lover on Dec 21, 2008" hit straight on the head what's wrong with remakes.

Ron on Jul 9, 2009


#21 I think John Carpenters "The Thing" could qualify as a good remake IMHO Also have to agree with #16 JMS has written some superb scritps on morals and ethics. Its a shame that the first draft of the forbidden planet has been leaked and he has had to start over again thus delaying the film even further. skipman

skipman on Jul 18, 2009


I have no misgivings about Straczynski writing a remarkable version of FP. But I do diasgree with hollywood suits & designers saying that we MUST change the simplicity of the Cruiser C-57D, and of Robby. Why ? Is it written in stone ? Isn't 53 years long enough to at least give a nod now to a few items in the movie that are still up-to-date & timeless ? And will STILL be new to a present audience ? I shudder to think of re-writing the script to ' dumb it down ' for the 25 year olds. And as pleasing & wild as the effects may be, it would be very effective if they were also realistic & thoughtful, as in ' OMG, y'know, that really makes sense ! '. In a way, they have to be mindboggling, but not surprising. Plus, a character involved in an effect just for a laugh is insulting (see: Star Trek). It can NOT be stressed enough that a viewer not only experience, but feel a part of it. And you can't get that if there are editing cuts every 3 to 5 seconds (see: Armageddon). You want to be THERE, watching an intense conversation that draws you into the story. So, if it is produced & directed with speed, loudness, uneven storyline, stupid story or personal references, quick cuts, nonsense, scientifically insulting, & idiotic design (see: Star Trek - per the producer: a rock'n roll looking starship ?). Then it will rake in bucks from the 15 to 20 year olds, and be considered fading, worthless & stupid in just a few years. The smooth saucer-shaped Cruiser will look realistic & timeless 300 years from now. Paul

Paul on Aug 11, 2009


The planet isn't Altair, it is Altair 4, as in "Welcome to Altair 4, gentlemen" (Robbie) - the sun is "the great main sequence star, Altair", and the planet is the fourth from it.. The Krell didn't destroy themselves "thousands of years in the past", they did it HUNDREDS of thousands of years in the past, around half a million years (roughly), and yet everything is pristine new (that's one clue to the dangers of Altair 4).. there are a few "errors" in the film (which I do adore) - one is that the animals in the film are Earth-normal even though they were taken from earth by the Krell - the animals the Krell would have taken when they visited would not be "normal" tiger and deer, but their earlier evolutionary forms.. and at the end, when they are counting down to the death of Altair 4, they see the planet at the exact time it blows up.. but they are a hundred million miles away, and light would take 8 or 9 minutes to reach them (as it takes from our own sun).. a couple of strange jumps in the film were later explained (check out the DVD and outtakes). Ian

Ian on Oct 21, 2009


I fear I must agree with Accusamend. In its time, Forbidden Planet was an epochal advance in science fiction because good science fiction is about people, their choices, ideas, sacrifices, betrayals and victories and bad science fiction blows up a lot of stuff. While it was vistually stunning, what made it an enduring classic was what went on in the minds of the characters. While there may be nothing wrong witn a popcorn flick, I feel that to base a popcorn flick upon an enduring classic is to insult and damage the original. I know, JMS has vowed not to turn Forbidden Planet into a popcorn flick. I can just as easily vow to flap my arms and fly to the moon - that doesn't mean it is within my capabilities. I have seen nothing in the work of JMS to lead me to believe that he is the person for the job - if there is such a person. Babylon 5? Puh-leeze. Pretensions of depth while remaining no deeper than the film on which it was shot. Oh, he wrote comic books. I must withdraw my objection. And to Mr. Silver: "It's not a remake. It's not a reimagining. It's not exactly a prequel. You'll have to see it. It's something that no one has thought of when it comes to this storyline." Given all those things that it is not, why use the original title unless you are looking to cash in on the cachet of the original? If Messrs. Straczynski and Silver are skilled and imaginative enough to accomplish what their marketing promises claim, then they are good enough to have an original idea and develop that. And that I would much prefer to see.

Raleigh on Nov 18, 2009


#4 I couldn't disagree with you more. The Matrix was very deep. Sector 9 was a great SF film. Children of Men was a great SF film. I haven't seen it yet, but I believe Avatar is going to be a great SF film as well, possibly one of the greatest. There are good SF films still being made. Sure, there are crappy movies like Invasion and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

tyrascilee on Nov 24, 2009


Tyrascilee The question is not whether there are any good SF films still being made. The question is whether J Michael could make one. We certainly disagree on what a good film is [The Matrix starts well, but look at the sequels.. and isn't that the point? Sector 9 is just Alien Nation writ large. Children of Men is just ZPG with better effects - I can almost certainly predict you won't know about the film ZPG, right? I am amazed at how many bad films I have seen.] By pointing out the others are "crappy", you're actually making the point - Invasion is a remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (which absolutely nobody has done better than the original author, Jack Finney) and The Day the Earth Stood Still is a remake of another classic. I have enjoyed many recent SF and fantasy films - some were extremely loud and extremely shallow, others were quiet and affecting, occasionally they were all four - but I have seen a lot of work by JMS, and none of it suggests he could sustain the purity or verve of the original FP.

Ian on Nov 25, 2009


I would like to see some changes in the remake. The cast should me more diverse than all white male crew. The new crew should include women and minorities. 

James on Jan 7, 2012

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