Review: Westworld (1973)

Director: Michael Crichton | 88 minutes | action, thriller, western, science fiction | Actors: Yul Brynner, James Brolin, Richard Benjamin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Victoria Shaw, Dick van Patten, Linda Gaye Scott, Steve Franken, Michael T. Milker, Terry Wilson, Majel Barrett, Anne Randall, Julie Marcus, Sharyn Winters

Have you always wanted to live out your fantasies? Want to be a gunfighter in the wild west, for example? That is possible, and in Delos, where lifelike robots are walking around that serve to entertain the holiday guests. The guests themselves do not run any risk, until the robots no longer allow themselves to be controlled by their makers. Despite the talk of “malfunction” and the increasingly deviant behavior of the robots, for commercial reasons, the entertainment for the customers in the three fantasy worlds is of course continued. And that is why it is also the technology that gets out of hand in this film that will significantly reduce the amusement value of the park for the holiday guests.

The story focuses mainly on the two friends Peter Martin and John Blane (Benjamin and Brolin). In the western town where they can act out their fantasies, brawls and shootings are the order of the day, and soon a gunfighter (Brynner) crosses their path several times. Brynner is the star of this production, carries the entire film and his way of acting creates a perfect threat on his part. This also because he seems to have taken a personal grudge against Martin and Blane and because of the obvious pleasure he has in committing his wrongdoing, which is reflected in his slightly sarcastic frozen smiles. Brynner’s performance is best portrayed in the lengthy and successful chase scene in the second part of the film and this part is what makes the film the most rewarding. Annoying for his target (ten?), But all the more exciting for the viewer, is that Brynner plays a robot that is a precursor to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator robot, notably including Schwarzenegger’s famous phrase ‘I’ll be back’ on him. applies, because it keeps coming (although quite predictably), which of course contributes in a desirable way to maintaining the tension and action.

In addition to Martin and Blane, a few more characters are brought forward, most notably the holiday guest in the medieval part of the amusement park and the holiday guest who can now play as “raw” sheriff. But identification with these characters is hardly achieved due to their underexposure. Their fate did provide the necessary noteworthy action, but some increased identification possibilities with these other holiday guests would have been welcome.

There are also some question marks in the story. Why can the gunfighter robot now suddenly hit the holiday guests while this was not possible before? This cannot be explained by the emotions they seem to develop, so is it only caused by failing technology? Or is it a combination of both? But how is it possible that the horse robots do not show deviant behavior while the rattlesnake and human robots do? Ultimately, the cause does not become clear, so that the moral of the story that director Crichton may want to bring forward does not become clear (Do not put too much faith in the technology? Be responsible in acting out your fantasies?). How is it that the eyesight of the robots can be deceived so easily? With a technology that can produce such robots, this could have been better designed. Why doesn’t the control room have an emergency exit? In addition to the various question marks that arise, the pace in the first part of the film is sometimes a bit slow, but the flaws are quickly forgotten when the robots run wild. After the various ‘safe’ confrontations for holiday guests, this speaks all the more to the imagination.

After all, the special effects seem rather old-fashioned, especially compared to later films. But let this not be an objection, it actually enhances the charm of this film, especially in the scenes in which the various robots shot down and in other ways disabled are refurbished. So sit down when this film presents itself because, while looking a bit dated in some respects, it is all in all a successful piece of action, excitement and entertainment.

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