One of these days, an AI machine is going to start killing people on its own.
How do I know that? Because machines are built by people, and people like to kill each other.
Also, I know that AI will kill people because movies told me. Great sci-fi films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” are about murderous machines. Overrated sci-fi films like “The Terminator” and the “The Matrix” predict the takeover of malevolent machines.
“Forbidden Planet” was one of the first major films to address this troubling threat. If you like science fiction at all, “Forbidden Planet” is a must-see; it’s wildly imaginative and influential.
The story begins in the 23rd Century. Humanity has learned how to travel faster than the speed of light (take that, Einstein) and now we are colonizing the galaxy.
A crew of American astronauts are on a routine mission to find out what happened to all the people on the far-flung planet Altair-4.
Leslie Nielson stars as the Kirk-esque starship captain Adams. He meets brilliant Dr. Morbius. Morbius informs Adams that a mysterious invisible monster killed every settler on the planet except him and his hot daughter Alta.
Captain Adams is able to take his focus off of Alta’s comically short mini-skirts for just long enough to hear Dr. Morbius’s amazing tale of the Krell – the long-extinct aliens who lived on Altair-4.
One of the awesomely innovative things about “Forbidden Planet” is the way we are introduced to the super intelligent Krell. Director Fred Wilcox had huge, elaborate sets built to give us a sense of their technological sophistication. And he let Dr. Morbius’s vivid description of their civilization fill in the rest.
If we had seen a Krell creature, it certainly would have been cheesy-looking and ruined the effect. But in our imagination, the Krell are fascinating and ultra-powerful.
Another ingenious decision on the part of the filmmakers was to toss the conventional musical score in the trash and just use futuristic synthesizer sounds. The eerie electronic music adds mood and suspense; old-fashioned strings and percussion would sound out of place.
The only reason this film doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as a mind-blowing work of art is that so many people copied it. If Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling ever claimed that they didn’t watch “Forbidden Planet,” they were obviously lying.
Like a good episode of “The Twilight Zone,” “Forbidden Planet” slowly builds suspense and then blows you away with a thought-provoking surprise ending.
The guys who made “Forbidden Planet” are plainly smarter than we are. And they predict that intelligent beings are doomed to create machines that lead to their own destruction. So when AI starts killing people, don’t say you weren’t warned.