Westworld (1973) / Sci Fi-Western
MPAA Rated PG for violence, sexual content and language (probably PG-13 today)
Running time: 88 min.
Cast: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Norman Bartold, Dick Van Patten
Director: Michael Crichton
Screenplay: Michael Crichton
Review published February 11, 1999
An amusement park/resort is created on another world called Delos, where there are various "worlds" people can stay in and feel as if they are really there. Participate in an orgy in Romanworld, have a swordfight in Medievalworld, or have a gunfight in Westworld, it's all up to you, and it's all safe because the androids which you can fight with or even make love to are designed to not hurt anyone or turn down their advances. Things turn dangerous when the androids begin to exhibit problems with their central intelligence making them act erratic (to say the least).
Outside of some cheesy acting, Westworld a fun and effective sci-fi thriller that delivers on humor and action. Yul Brynner (The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments) may have only five lines in the film, but he is brilliant as the gunslinger gone berserk, chasing after the hapless Richard Benjamin (Love at First Bite, Saturday the 14th) for the latter half of the film. It's amazing how entertaining it is with such a low budget and this being a first for famed writer Crichton at the helm.
While it is undeniably a popcorn film, there's also no denying the influence it had in the world of sci-fi films as a whole. Strands of its story can be found in The Terminator (relentless android that can't be stopped), Predator (a nonhuman being with hightened senses and infrared sight preying on humans) and even in Crichton's later and more popular work Jurassic Park (high-concept amusement park that goes awry and becomes deadly.)
Suspension of disbelief is a must to enjoy, but to those who are game Westworld offers a good deal of fun thrills.
-- Followed by Futureworld (1976) and a TV series, "Beyond Westworld" in 1980.
©1999 Vince Leo