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Westworld

Westworld

What She said:

She

This is one of those movies that has come to define my childhood.  I was probably under the age of 10 the first time I saw it, and it’s really stuck with me.  Westworld is a futuristic sci-fi thriller that revolves around an adult amusement park where people can fulfill their dreams of living in the late 1800s American West, Roman times, or Medieval Europe.  They interact with humanoid robots for a 100 percent realistic experience—the only caveat being that it is impossible for guests to get hurt.  While they may interact in gun battles or sword duals, the robots are programmed to not shoot or take a lethal blow to anyone who has a body temperature.  So basically, this is the perfect amusement park. 

Well, at least it WAS perfect, until the robots go crazy and start killing all the guests.  Stuck in the middle of it is Martin (Richard Benjamin), a fairly meek fella who with his friend, Blane (James Brolin), decided to take the vacation of a lifetime.  After a few days of gunslinging and debauchery, Martin is singled out by a deranged cowboy robot who relentlessly follows him around trying to blow is head off.  Yul Brenner is way creepy as the super robot whose facial expression never seems to change.  Brenner must have about three lines of dialogue in the entire movie.  And he slowly but surely chases Martin, only breaking into a brisk jog once.  The movie has some scary music that they play whenever Brenner is in scene.  It’s pretty haunting.

The film also has its share of ‘70s hokeyness, but it’s all in fun.  I think all of the costumes are made from polyester, which I found particularly amusing.  The control room at Westworld has lots of unsophisticated computer equipment, and the movie more than a few times pans by monitors that are just showing images of geometric shapes.  It’s hilarious, considering where we are today with technology. 

The film is fairly short, breezy, and fun.  It’s also a bit scary.  Of note is the fact that it was written and directed by Michael Crichton.  You’ll certainly feel early foreshadowing of Jurassic Park, which might feel a bit cheap once you realize that Crichton ran with the notion of a theme park-gone-bad decades before writing that book. 

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

When you think of Michael Crichton, I imagine many of you are thinking of his books or movies that were inspired by them. You may not know that he actually directed a few movies himself. One of those movies is Westworld.

In addition to being a hokey, but fun sci fi flick, Westworld shows that Crichton was toying with elements of Jurassic Park for quite some time. Westworld is about a amusement park owned by a giant corporation, whose guests take part in one of three themed worlds: the Old West, Roman Empire, or Medieval Europe. Each world is filled with human-looking robots.

The robots will do just about anything for you. If you want to try your hand at a sword fight with the evil black knight, you can do that. If you want take on a gunslinger in the Old West, you can do that too. If you want to head on down to Miss Carrie’s establishment and…well you get the idea, that’s an option as well. The whole place is pretty much a playground for grownups.

Remember earlier when I mentioned how this movie was a bit of foreshadowing for Jurassic Park? Well you get the hint there the movie is headed next.

Leading the way are John Blane (James Brolin), Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin), and the stereotypical, evil, gunslinger played by Yuhl Brenner; they even have him dressed in all black to boot! Stuff like that is what makes the movie enjoyable.

Blane and Martin are having a great time until the robots go haywire and decided to ignore all the safety protocols put in place. Before you know it, it’s Jurassic Park, except with robots. Come on, how hilarious is that?

 If you are looking for something hokey and entertaining, this is a great choice. This isn’t a long or complicated movie. It’s very upfront about what it is and does not pretend to be anything else. It even has some pretty disposable characters, which is good for this kind of movie.

James Brolin’s character is kind of an ass and Yul Brenner’s is a robot (though I have to say he was a lot of fun to watch in this role). Richard Benjamin’s is the only one you’ll end up caring about all that much.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on July 22, 2011.