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WESTWORLD (1973)

I have loved WESTWORLD since I was a child and have seen this movie more times than I can remember and it still holds up 40 years later. The Directorial debut of Author Michael Crichton (who also wrote the screenplay), WESTWORLD is a precursor to JURASSIC PARK substituting robots for dinosaurs.
 
The premise is perfection. Delos is a Disneyland-like resort for adults. Separated into three areas (Medievalworld, Romanworld and Westworld), guests pay $1,000 a day to immerse themselves in a meticulously created, reconstruction of the past. The denizens of the worlds are lifelike robots, indistinguishable from real people. Guests are free to live out their fantasies of sex and violence as they see fit.
 
Martin (Richard Benjamin) is recently divorced, so his friend Blane (James Brolin) takes him to Westworld to cheer him up and forget about recent events. Taking out some of his aggression with some gunplay followed up by sex with an automaton is just what the doctor ordered.
 
But as with most technology, there are flaws in the system and when Delos’ computer system glitches, the robots rebel with murderous results. Yul Brynner is iconic as “Gunslinger” a constant foil for Martin and Blane. When the system goes down, Gunslinger has some unfinished business with our heroes and, like The Terminator, he has no plans of stopping until the mission is complete.
 
Definitely a product of the 70’s, WESTWORLD has timeless charm. It treats its premise with respect but still has fun with it, bordering on being too earnest at times. When the robots turn murderous all bets are off and with a pounding score, it keeps a great pace with the tension ratcheted to 10. Like much of his work, Crichton has something to say here about mankind’s hubris and our over reliance on technology. Any doubt that this movie doesn’t have a point to make is dispelled by the closing moments of the film.
 
Like the robots that inhabit Delos, WESTWORLD isn’t perfect, but it’s worth the trip.

NOVEMBER 9, 2013