It’s been a while since I watched Westworld. I had forgotten that it was written and directed by Michael Crichton. I was suprised by the many similarities to Jurrasic Park. It starts with oohing and aahing and ends with running and screaming.
Westworld was made in 1973 and the big name stars were Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin. It’s a baffling film to watch now. The effects are bad to really bad. The writing is clunky and awkward. The acting is wooden and embarrassed. And it’s a pretty short film, only an hour and a half long.
The premise is fun, for a thousand dollars a day you can move into the Matrix and live out a fantasy life. You have a choice of three worlds, one based on the American old west, one based on Medieval times, and one based on Roman times. You can kill people, be the king or the sheriff, and have all the sex you want without all that pesky guilt and risk of disease.
I remember being far less critical of this clunker when I watched it as a kid. I loved all the gotcha moments and maybe even liked the idea of going to a theme park like that. I was scared when the killer robot went after the hero. I was horrified when he killed one of the heroes. I had none of those moments watching it now.
Yul Brynner was playing the Terminator ten years before Arnold launched his career playing an emotionless machine that couldn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger had the same mindless pursuit of his prey-a Tech tells our hero that the robot will never, ever stop until he is dead. The Gunslinger even has that Terminator knack for not being quite as dead as you think he is. It shouldn’t have been Harlan Ellison that sued Cameron for stealing his ideas, it should have been Michael Crichton.
Of course, the tourists in West World weren’t in The Matrix, they were in the real world made to look like the Matrix. We watched our heroes in Westworld and learn that the guns are rigged not to fire on warm bodies. Ok, fine, so how do they stop one of the robots in Medieval World or Roman World from killing you with a sword? The ad that opens the movie tells how safe it is and how much fun it is. Not so safe after all. The problem appears to be a computer virus, just one more time when Michael Crichton showed himself to be a genius.
There are countless odd little things that don’t make any sense. Some robots can eat and drink as well as have sex. Some burn out if you give them a drink of water. The park is run by tape drive computers and text only computer displays- and yet, there are robot snakes and horses and people who are so perfect you can’t tell them from the real thing.
In the end, we have one person left alive in the three theme parks, and he is still in the park as the credits roll, so he could have been killed by another rogue robot a minute or two later.
Ok, it’s the 70s and it is what it is. It’s like The Six Million Dollar Man and Logan’s Run, shows I loved at the time and can’t stand to watch now. Westworld is a fun idea and I hope HBO does a good job with the new series.