Thursday, January 19, 2017

Westworld (1973) Movie Review

Westworld (1973) 
Rent Westworld on Amazon Video
Written by: Michael Crichton
Directed by: Michael Crichton
Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin
Rated: PG

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A malfunctioning robot causes terror at a futuristic Western themed immersive park where robots are lifelike and guests have free reign to create their own experience.

This had a huge influence on movies to follow. While the concepts are strong, the movie itself lacks refined execution. It's a little too b-level. It's never as tense as it should be, and it takes too long to get into the plot.
It's a great idea in rough draft form that Crichton himself later perfected with Jurassic Park. The idea of an unstoppable robot was done justice in The Terminator (1984).
It depends.

Novelist Michael Crichton wrote and directed this movie, a precursor to Jurassic Park (1993). In both movies, a technologically advanced amusement park suffers critical failures, trapping participants. This is the low budget rough draft of the concept, though Crichton did re-edit the first cut of Westworld, finding it too boring and deleting many scenes.

John Blane (James Brolin) accompanies first timer Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) to the Delos amusement park, as Peter asks him about various aspects, excited at participating in a visceral world.
We don't delve very far into this world, but do see scientists retrieving and repairing robots for each day's performance.

A strange glint in the eyes of certain robots foreshadows what's to come, though it does take a while for the terror aspect to arrive. We see numerous scenes from Roman World where the code malfunction originated, but it seemed superfluous to see so many shots in another world, when the movie should keep everything confined to one world.

Peter is reserved, afraid to test the limits of the park, while John is quick to show him where to find fun. They end up on the outskirts of the park where John is bitten by a snake. While the editing is a bit amateur, that's a real snake attached to Brolin's arm.

The problems with the robots are manifested in the Gunslinger (Yul Brynner), a character that influenced The Terminator franchise. The Gunslinger begins following Peter and John. He can't be stopped or shut down. The scientists that run the park are undone by their reliance on machines.

It's easy to nitpick the science of this show. Why do robots need guns at all? Is it just so they can shoot near people for added realism? In a bar fight, how do humans distinguish between robot and human? Signing a lengthy legal disclaimer may solve those issues.

This movie made a huge contribution to film, influencing much of science fiction like The Terminator, Halloween, and Jurassic Park. The themes are strong. People value entertainment and experience in the future to a fault. An over reliance on machines or science can easily lead to detriment. The concept was ahead of it's time, but the movie itself isn't as strong as the idea. It doesn't do a great job of generating tension.

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