Warner Brothers has hired Changeling scribe and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to script a remake of their 1956 classic film Forbidden Planet.
The original, loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, tells the story of the crew of a spaceship, captained by Leslie Nielson, sent to the planet Altair IV to check up on a colony of scientists. There, they discover that only one scientist and his daughter have survived the attacks of an unseen monster years earlier. Despite the danger perceived by the crew, the scientist refuses to leave with the them, preferring to stay and continue to study the ancient underground city of the planet’s vanished inhabitants. Some may know the film for introducing audiences to to Robby The Robot.
Normally, I’m against remaking classic films. And let’s make no mistake, Forbidden Planet is a classic. Even setting aside the fact the Shakespeare connection, its story was groundbreaking for 1950s science-fiction cinema. In all other sci-fi movies of the time, outer space was the home of strange and terrible monsters who had nothing better to do than land in small Earth towns and terrorize the citizenry. In Forbidden Planet, it is humans who went out into outer space, only to find that the monsters out there are the ones we brought with us. Besides its unusually cerebral storyline, Forbidden Planet also sported some great state-of-the-art special effects, which still hold up today. Amazingly, the movie lost the Academy Award for visual effects to The Ten Commandments’ far inferior work. With its spaceship crew tasked with exploration, many of have seen Forbidden Planet as a direct influence on Gene Roddenberry when he created writer/producer Star Trek.
But Straczynski is a writer whom I am a fan of and I trust on a project like this. He is a fan of the original film and has worked references to it into his classic series Babylon 5. If there is any writer out there who will get the material and will remain true to it, I think it will be Straczynski. As he stated in an online post last night, “Joe the Fanboy has been chasing this one assignment for over a decade.”
(Two remakes that I actually approve of in one week? Am I getting soft in my old age?)
In addition to the Forbidden Planet gig, Straczynski currently has the features Lensmen, based on the E E Doc Smith pulp novels, and The Flickering Light set up at Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and They Marched Into Sunlight, with Paul Greengrass directing, at Playtone and Universal. He has also completed an adaptation of Max Brooks’ zombie apocalypse novel World War Z, which is at Plan B waiting a greenlight. In his online post yesterday, Straczynski also stated that he is signed for two more projects, but couldn’t give specifics until the studios announced them.
Via Hollywood Reporter.