Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Westworld - 3.5/5

God bless Michael Crichton. The man will be sorely missed. It's amazing all the great stories he told: Jurassic Park, Sphere, Andromeda Strain, Terminal Man, among others. Though a terrific author it seems many people forget that he also dabbled in directing a few films in his day. His first theatrical directing gig being Westworld, which he also wrote.

Westwold is everything that made Michael Crichton great. Like Jurassic Park, it was ahead of its time. The story is about a vacation resort split into three sections: Roman World, Medieval World, and of course Westworld. In each world there are robots made to act like human beings from each time era. For only a $1000 a day a person can go to a world and make-believe they really live in that time span. What an amazing idea Crichton! Like Jurassic Park, all is well to begin with until shit goes down. Our robots begin to malfunction and death comes to those vacationers.

Our main characters are lawyer types who come to Westworld for some thrills. They love it at first by taking fun in bar fights, duels, and even indulging in some local bordellos. That is until the robots malfunction and a gunslinger, in the form of Yul Brynner, starts to hunt them down.

Casting Yul Brynner as the killer robot gunslinger was perfect! They even gave Brynner the same outfit he wore in The Magnificent Seven. Nice touch there Crichton! The silvery shimmer to his eyes gave Brynner a scary image. Hell, his character could even be considered a prototype to The Terminator. Our two leads are played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin. Brolin, is well, Brolin in his part. Can't go wrong with his macho image. Benjamin however left me desiring a better actor in the role. He just didn't make me want to root for his character's survival and I ended up rooting more for the Brynner villain.

Like I mentioned before Crichton also served as Director on this picture. I don't like to speak ill of the dead but he is a MUCH better writer than director. His directing is a little flat and the pacing of the film could be tightened up. The robots don't malfunction until nearly an hour into the film and the climatic chase at the end tends to drag instead of being suspenseful.

Despite Crichton's shortcomings as a director the film still manages to be very entertaining due to its great story and the casting of Brynner as the villainous gunslinger. I don't know if I can look at his good-guy cowboy character in The Magnificent Seven the same way again!

Written By: Eric Reifschneider

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