1973: Westworld

imageImagine a vacation destination where you could do whatever you want. I don’t mean sleepingin, spending all day in the sun or having open bar. I mean go to a time you wanted, kill who you wanted, sleep with who you wanted, and with no chance of bringing harm to yourself. That was the concept of the Delos amusement park. It featured 3 historic themed destinations to attract customers: Medeival World, Roman World, and Western World. Populated with lifelike robots, these worlds are meant to offer as close as possible the experiences and the violence and promiscuity of those times. All at the low price of $1000 a day.

This is the vacation that Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and John Blane (James Brolin, who looks just like Christian Bale) signed on for. Things go great for the first several day, they kill a Yul Brynner robot a couple times, they hook up with the local women, they blow up a prison, and they become outlaws, all in the name of fun. Things take a turn when the robots stop following order and start killing the patrons. Roman world and Medeival World become slaughter houses. Unaware of what has been happening, Peter and John return to Westworld to find it empty. Well almost empty. The last patron is the robot who has been antagonizing them since they got there. When he challenges them to a duel they gladly accept. John, who hadn’t killed one yet, volunteers. Horror comes to Peter as he watches his friend get shot to death by the robot who was supposedly “harmless”.

Peter takes off on a robot horse and The Brynner Bot 5000 chases after him for a good 20 minutes throughout Roman World, the robot control centre, and finally into Medeival World. In the imageend the robot, who had been following Peter using heat sensors, is unable to distinguish between Peter and a torch. Peter manages to light him on fire and the the robot burns up.

I thought that this movie was a lot of fun for the the first hour. I enjoyed watcher Peter and John get into trouble in the Westworld town, especially Peter who we follow from a hesitant and awkward patron to the guy who rushes into a room looking for danger. John, who had been there before was a good guide for both Peter and us. He played it cool gave us an example of the person we could be, and wanted to be, if we ever went to the park. I didn’t think it was anything spectacular, but it was a fun watch. When the threat of the robots grew I thought that the movie became a little slow and very predictable. I knew that John would die in a duel, otherwise Peter would never had understood the threat he was against. I knew that the heat sensor would be his downfall. There was a scene where Peter is on the run and he comes across a room full of robot bodies on beds. I knew he would hide on one of them, they pulled the exact trick in THX 1138. They gave away just a few too many clues that the surprises were ruined. If the chase had been a little quicker it would have been much better. All in all, not a bad movie, it was an entertaining hour and a half, and I’d probably stop and watch it if it were on tv.

This was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who also authored The Andromeda Strain. The franchise went on to produce a sequel, FutureWorld, and a short lived TV show, Beyond Westworld. The movie was nominated for a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award and a Saturn Award. HBO is producing a new TV series based on the film, with J.J. Abrams executive producing, and Anthony Hopkins and James Marsden starring.

Thanks for reading!

photo from http://cdn1.sciencefiction.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/westworld.jpg, and

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