Westworld is directed and written by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Twister) and stars Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten, and Yul Brynner. The story focuses on two different plots involving the mega-complex ‘Delos’ that contains within it three theme parks: Romeworld, Medievalworld, and Westworld. Richard Benjamin and James Brolin are two friends who vacation in Westworld where for $1,000 a day they shoot, blow-up, fornicate, and mess around with life-like androids that pander to the guests desires. All guests are assured nothing can go wrong but that promise is short lived. The plot also oddly cuts to Medievalworld (only to setup the climax) where a portly old man has affairs with women while his wife vacays in Romanworld. Without any explanation, except for a possible computer virus, the robots begin murdering the guests.
The concept is quite original and really intriguing. Considering this film debuted in 1973 it’s easy to say this movie was ahead of its time. Crichton deserves recognition for creating an engrossing concept where people masquerade their desires playing dress up in an extravagant world where they may do all they please. Crichton shows the audience that people wish to exercise their secret desires in a sanctioned, attractive environment.
Benjamin, Brolin, and others give serviceable performances but none stand out, save Yul Brynner who isn’t given much but plays a frightening, killer robot.
Where the movie begins to falter is with the pacing. Westworld engaged me immediately with it’s TV ad and futuristic hovercraft ride into the complex and the setup of the theme-park. But then things slow down. The audience is essentially experiencing the main characters acts in real time as if we are supposed to be doing them as well. This does not make for good cinema but rather makes for a good video game (for some that is). In order to reach a theatrical runtime, Crichton fills the screen with long takes and even longer sequences. The film does not even meet the hour and a half runtime that most theatrical films do.
If you watched the trailer then you’ll know the robots start killing the guests. This plot element takes quite a while to come about and I felt it. Once the robots do begin killing the guests it all ends quickly and what we’re left with is a long and tedious chase sequence between Benjamin’s character, Peter Martin, and Yul Brynner’s character, The Gunslinger. Again Crichton simply drags out the runtime; instead of creating suspense he simply creates boredom.
Honestly I was very eager for this movie because of the new HBO series remake that looks promising. Sadly, I was disappointed with this movie. It has a very intriguing concept yet poor execution. I am giving Westworld 5 stars out of 10 making this a Slight Not Recommend.
If you wish to see this movie before watching the HBO series then you will not have wasted your time because it is a serviceable film and the concept alone is worth the price of admission for curiosity’s sake, but be wary that you’re in for a slow, unfulfilling ride.