Film Review: Westworld (1973)

Release Date: November 21st, 1973
Directed by: Michael Crichton
Written by: Michael Crichton
Music by: Fred Karlin
Cast: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 88 Minutes

westworld_1973Review:

I haven’t seen Westworld since I was a kid. I vaguely remembered the plot but I do recall liking it overall. With HBO remaking it as a television series, I thought I’d revisit it before delving into the newer version.

The movie revolves around a company called Delos and their adult amusement park. They create a place with three different worlds that can be lived in: Roman World (based on Pompeii), Medieval World (self-explanatory) and Westworld (based on the American Old West). The two main characters, played by Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, go into Westworld to live out their cowboy fantasies from their youth. They immediately cross paths with the town villain, played by Yul Brynner. Brynner, like all the other characters in town, is an android that is programmed to play a specific role. As the film goes on, malfunctions start happening until the park gets completely out of control. The climax of the film sees Brynner stalking Benjamin in an effort to legitimately kill him.

Westworld has a pretty interesting premise and it all unfolds and plays out really well. It is always neat to see a science fiction western but this one also adds in elements of Medieval Europe and the Roman Empire. It is a strange bag but it creates some cool scenarios and visuals. Most notably, the scene with the predatory Brynner hunting his prey through Pompeii, as he is dressed in western garb. This movie had to be a fun change of pace for Brynner.

This is also the first film directed by novelist Michael Crichton. He would go on to write a slew of great books and screenplays. His most famous work being the creation of the Jurassic Park franchise. In fact, the amusement park scenario of this creation, may have inspired what would become Jurassic Park.

The special effects are pretty good for the time. This is also the first motion picture to feature digital image processing. It was used to pixelate the film in an effort to show the killer android’s point-of-view.

Even though he barely speaks, it is hard to think of Yul Brynner in a role more tailor-made for him than this. He would also reprise the role in the sequel Futureworld, which I will watch and review shortly.

Richard Benjamin and James Brolin did well enough in their roles too. They weren’t memorable or that interesting but they served their purpose.

Westworld is a unique picture and it is highly enjoyable to fans of the sci-fi and western genres.

Rating: 8/10