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1973's "Westworld" was the directorial debut of author Michael Crichton, who would later create "Jurassic Park," and can be seen almost as a "rough draft" of "J.P." since it uses many of the same themes & ideas.
James Brolin and Richard Benjamin are guests at a $1000-per-day Western themed "Adult Amusement Park" where people can act out their historical fantasies thanks to the park's amazingly lifelike androids. However, when a computer failure at the park causes the robots to run amok, they have to escape the wrath of a particularly determined "Gunslinger" android (played with steely-eyed creepiness by the late, great Yul Brynner).
The film has a made-for-TV look to it that hasn't aged particularly well but it's still a fun watch for Crichton fans and vintage sci-fi enthusiasts.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Disneyland it ain't...
JLind555 | 11/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Westworld" is Michael Crichton's first foray into the theme-park-as-hell genre which he followed up more successfully in "Jurassic Park", but it's a very good film on its own. Here we have James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, two bored yuppies, starting their holiday in Delos, billed as the ultimate theme park, "where nothing can go wrong". Yeah, right. Customers pay through their noses to spend a vacation in one of three areas of the park: Romanworld, Medievalworld, and Westworld, where they can live out their fantasies and it's fun for all. Brolin and Benjamin choose Westworld (what American boy has never played cowboy at some time in his childhood?) and for a few days they have the time of their lives shooting up bad guys, starting barfights, and drawing a bead on deadly rattlesnakes. But it's all harmless fun and games -- everything's computerized, the bad guys, the ladies of easy virtue, even the rattlesnakes; and there's a state-of-the-art computer lab to keep everything running smoothly. Nothing to worry about......until the computers develop a virus that sends them off into a learning curve that screws everything up. The first hint that something might be amiss happens over in Medievalworld, when a robot harlot decides she is tired of being a sex object and smacks a customer across the face when he tries to seduce her. Meanwhile, back in Westworld, the bad-guy-in-black robot challenges Brolin and Benjamin to a gunfight, but instead of being shot dead as he is every night, the bad guy decides to turn the tables. Oh boy, maybe it's time to cut this vacation short... but that's easier said than done when all of the robots have gone berserk and start whacking not only the customers, but their programmers as well. Murphy's Law has proved itself once again with a vengeance. Is there any way out of this mess? See for yourself.Brolin and Benjamin are fairly good in their respective roles, nothing to write home about; but what makes this movie special is Yul Brynner's terrific portrayal of the bad-guy-in-black; a soulless robot with the dead eyes of a killer. The special effects are interesting in that they show us how far special effects have come since this movie was made; this was strictly a low-budget film, but it's a lot of fun for all that. It's pure Crichtonian escapism."
A Real Science Fantasy Trek Into Horror
MF Regan | Ontario, Canada | 10/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
I picked this film up about a week ago. I hadn't seen it since it premiered back in the 1970's. It made no impression on me whatsoever on that first viewing. Boy has time and its simplicity improved it, the second time around! This is a very timely film and I think people of all ages should take a look at it.
This film moves from humour to fantasy to horror almost seamlessly. And the funny thing is- the fact that Crichton didn't get caught up in atmosphere or look; he concentrated on two characters simply going to a future resort, however fantastic the idea seems, to release and experience what in fact become examples of some of the darkest pleasures or most violent impulses inside of all of us. It really presses the right buttons and asks questions about what we find fun or entertaining.
I don't want any review I write to spoil the films for the people yet to see the work so, let's just say- when the tables turn and 'we're on the receiving end ', there's a real numbing truth to what this film drives home. More so today then when it was released. Think of some of the 'reality based darkness' that now litters our airwaves and the unfortunate numbers who seem to be tuning in to watch it.
James Brolin really nails the 'who cares' feel his character needs. Richard Benjamin has to be the one who feels silly at first, then joins in with a sort of reckless abandon. And Yul Brynner is an example to everybody today (in acting, directing, effects and make-up ), of how you can scare the hell out of someone with a look, a smile and two small silver contact lens. (You'll know what I mean when you get to the scene). Benjamin really balances him from that point, having to portray the fear the new reality hits him with.
I won't do the Jurassic comparisons. I thought it when Jurassic came out but Jurassic was a rollercoaster ride. Westworld is the tale with the real bite.
I highly recommend this movie. It's an entertainment that quickly turns to a truth I think we all need to keep thinking about. What do we really find entertaining? Or more to the point... why?"
Western with a twist
JLind555 | 07/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Westworld" remains as fresh today as it did when it first came out. What a great movie. Yul Brynner looks liked he just got off the set of "The Magnificent Seven" but this time he is the bad guy. Brynner makes this a wonderful outing. I mean who else could pull this one off? Good scripting helped too."
C. Upperstrom | Iron River, Michigan United States | 01/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Westworld at a theatre when I was 7 years old (my parents didn't know!!) It scared the ... out of me back then because of the visuals (robots taking their faces off ect.) When I saw Westworld a few years ago it was just as scary because of the suspense factor(the special effects are kind of cheezy by today's standards) If you watch Westworld for the entertainment value and look past all the shortcomings in special effects- it is very entertaining and suspenseful. Westworld is a very good story with an ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat biting your fingernails!! Glad to see it out on DVD!!"
A classic Sci-fi film that holds up well over thirty years l
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My new year's resolution was to see a bunch of movies I'd always intended to see but continually seemed to miss. Somewhat belatedly I'm fulfilling my resolution, which is why I finally saw WESTWORLD. Although it was somewhat dated, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The film concerns Delos, a resort of the future that allows guests to visit either of three theme parks where behavior that is frowned upon in the modern world can be engaged in without repercussion. Guests engage in orgiastic sex, feasting and heavy drinking, and the killing of opponents just for the sheer fun of it. One can choose between doing this in Roman World, Medieval World, or Westworld. The film focuses primarily on two visitors to Westworld, played by Richard Benjamin and James Brolin. This was one of the last Sci-fi films made before the onset of the personal computer, yet one of the first to actually utilize computers in the making of it. According to one book I recently read, the CGI representing the vision field of the The Gunslinger robot was the first use of computers to generate images in film history. So, in this way it could be considered cutting edge. On the other hand, when things start going wrong with a number of the robots, the head of technology on Delos describes the ailment as a "disease." Today we'd obviously describe this as a virus in their software.
"Westworld" is clearly the stock Warner Brothers Western set that was used at approximately the same time by BLAZING SADDLES. This works well for the film for it gives the viewer an image that seems weirdly familiar (though understandably familiar, since it has been used in dozens of movies and hundreds of television episodes). So the visitors to the park get pretty much the Western experience prior media would have conditioned them to expect. Even the bad guys seem familiar. Yul Bryner, for instance, wears the exactly same outfit that he wore when he starred in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. The visitors quickly fall into the routine, James Brolin doing an obvious imitation of Clint Eastwood and Richard Benjamin quickly breaking out of the mold of somewhat nerdy lawyer. They visit the local brothel, kill the robot played by Yul Bryner a couple of times, get arrested and break out of jail and shoot the sheriff, and get drunk in the middle of a huge brawl. Then things go wrong on a major scale, with the robots going on a killing spree. The highpoint of the film is the long chase of Richard Benjamin by Yul Bryner.
A remake of WESTWORLD is currently in development. I am normally opposed to remakes. For the most part remakes are pale imitations of the originals, even in the case of most Sci-fi films. The remakes of THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS were inferior to the original, while the original PLANET OF THE APES is vastly superior to the remake. But this is one instance where, if done correctly, a remake could improve upon the original. The film is well done, but it was made well before computers came to dominate cultural life. As a result, the computerized control room looks absurdly primitive. For instance, there are no keyboards, but only consoles with buttons and switches and knobs. The danger, of course, is going overboard with the special effects. The temptation all too often is to go overboard with CGI and spectacular effects; in such cases story is sacrificed for spectacle. My hope is that they will keep this under control and keep enhancements at a minimum.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable and different Sci-fi film. It was directed and written by Michael Crichton and I couldn't help but think throughout it how similar the overall premise was to another Crichton creation: JURASSAIC PARK. Both deal with things going wrong at technologically advanced theme parks. Substitute dinosaurs for robots or vice versa and you have essentially the same movie."