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"Monsters from the Id!"

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | November 25, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | November 25, 2009 |

J. Michael Straczynski has signed on to write a remake of the 1956 classic sci-fi film The Forbidden Planet. Echoing the story of The Tempest, it envisions an abandoned planet, its inhabitants far advanced beyond humanity and apparently extinguished in a single night two hundred thousand years previously. Their technology churns on without them but when a human expedition lands, it too is wiped out mysteriously, leaving only an old scientist and his daughter as survivors. The story picks up twenty years later as a second expedition arrives, and anything but hilarity ensues.

Straczynski has insisted that it really is neither a remake, a reimagining, a prequel, a sequel, or retro. Just by process of elimination I think that means it’s either completely unrelated to the original or will actually be made by cut and pasting scenes from the old one into the new one.

There is little early word on the project other than that Straczynski is focusing more of the plot on telling the story of the first expedition, and that Warner is hoping it turns into a franchise (because every studio wants to turn every movie into a franchise) so they’re throwing a decent amount of money at the project. Says Straczynski: “There’s a little more action, but it’s still a strong character piece, because it’s based on The Tempest and the idea of a father whose daughter is being courted by, in the original play, sailors that are washed up on shore, you need to have that dynamic still in place to respect the original and the source material. So there’s a fair amount of talking, but there’s some really cool action pieces in it as well.”

Remake fever is a scourge on creativity, but I think fifty years is honorable enough spacing, especially if they’re handing over the reins to people with both talent and appreciation for the source material. While many older films are immortal and timeless, special effects reliant science fiction tends to be vulnerable to severe dating regardless of the overall quality of the piece. The comparably poor special effects can render a brilliant piece of art unwatchable by today’s audience, because the audience only has so much capacity for suspension of disbelief. Often there are scenes or story elements that just were not possible to accomplish with the technology of the day. By all means, don’t Michael Bay the thing, but making the spaceships a little sexy never hurt anyone.

The original starred Leslie Nielsen long before he became a spoof of a spoof, but the new project is far too early in development to even have rumors of actors. I nominate Ian McKellen as Morbius and Natalie Portman as Altaira.

(source: SciFi Wire)

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.