Westworld (1973)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Westworld</strong> (1973)

(On Cable TV, December 2017) It took the Westworld TV show and a convenient showing of the 1973 film on cable TV for me to finally take in writer/director Michael Crichton’s original Westworld, but I finally saw it, nearly twenty-five years after Jurassic Park stole its best ideas. It’s definitely a period piece—the science-fiction elements are laboriously explained, the technology is straight out of the early seventies, and the style is, well, definitely retro. The relatively low budget of the film doesn’t help either. On the flip-side, there’s a straight-ahead quality to the park’s deranged-android mayhem that’s barely explained (and even then in an ambiguous way that may point to a computer virus) and hold up better than a longer exposition. Otherwise, Westworld is a rather threadbare thing from a plot perspective: tourist visits a park where robots make everything possible, enjoys himself until the robots go crazy, survives to the end once he dispatches a particularly obsessed robot. That’s it. Fortunately, there are highlights in the way it’s presented. Yul Brynner is positively terrifying as the robot gunslinger, showing an early take on the Terminator trope and providing much of the film’s suspense. As for the rest, don’t be surprised to be far more interested in the film’s first few world-building minutes than the rather more conventional rest of the film. Westworld is still worth a look, but it has already been greatly exceeded by its TV show adaptation.

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