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Movie Name: Westworld
Release Date(s): November 21, 1973
MPAA Rating: PG
Delos can give you your dreams…it can give you the vacation of a lifetime. This is what is promised to the customers willing to pay the $1,000 a day price tag. You can be a knight in Medievalworld, enjoy the luxuries of Romanworld, or enjoy the dusty town of the Old West in Westworld. When Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and his friend John Blane (James Brolin) pick to spend a week in Westworld it seems like a good idea. Peter has a run in with one of Westworld’s gunslinger robots (Yul Brynner), and it is all for fun as he guns him down. Delos has a problem. Something is causing the robots to malfunction…and Westworld is about to get much more dangerous.
Westworld was written and directed by Michael Crichton and like many of his movies was very technologically advanced. Crichton was allegedly inspired by a trip to Disneyland and seeing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (gee, I wonder what would happen if the robots were dinosaurs)…the result was a sci-fi classic.
Westworld does a great job mixing borderline horror with a lot of humor. The idea of a park full of robots that are virtually human looking. The robots’ hands aren’t perfect and that is the only difference. Of course the robots don’t see, eat, or drink like humans (Westworld contained some of the first 2-D computer animation when presenting the Gunslinger’s viewpoint), but they can’t perfect hands?! Seems kind of unlikely, but it is presented in a way that is believable.
The casting of the movie is great. Brolin is good as a man full of bravado and has a nice cocky attitude toward the great “game” they are playing. Benjamin is good in that he is kind of a weak character that looks like someone who would have to go to a pretend dude ranch to feel tough. Brynner of course is the star that makes this movie.
Brynner is perfect. His Gunslinger is cold and heartless and was intentionally made to look like his character from The Magnificent Seven. John Carpenter credits the unstoppable Gunslinger as a model from Michael Myers and you can definately see some of the Gunslinger in the T-1000 from Terminator 2.
Westworld does have some weaknesses. There are some nice sets, but a lot of them just feel like sets. If I was paying $1000 a day, I’d expect a better setting. It also has kind of an underdeveloped plot among the people who run the Delos facility that ends up going no where after the park goes crazy. It also tries to build up a couple of other minor characters that don’t seem to need much screen time (Dick Van Patten and Norman Bartold as other guests).
One of the most interesting things about Westworld is how technology was at the time it was made. The creators of Westworld talk about a mysterious disease passing from computer to computer almost like a cold. They joke about the idea that it almost seems like the computers are somehow getting sick. They don’t have any concept of a computer virus at this time or if they do, they don’t think the audience could understand the idea.
Westworld is a great movie, and like many great older movies, is fingered for a remake. It did have a sequel in 1976 called Futureworld and the movie also spun off into a TV series called Beyond Westworld in 1980 that never quite caught on and only had five episodes. Warner Brothers as of 2011 still says Westworld is on their list of films to be remade.