Westworld (1973)

“Westworld has been somewhat overshadowed by writer and director Michael Crichton’s later work, “Jurassic Park”, which featured many of the same concepts – a science-fiction story set in an amusement park where humankind’s hubris, arrogance, and thoughtlessness in playing God leads to disaster.

While “Jurassic Park” certainly is superior in many ways, I find that I like “Westworld” a lot more. I found its genre-bending mash of science-fiction, western, and thriller was very compelling. It’s paced well, never overstaying its welcome, and far below the bloated runtimes we’re subjected to these days.

westworld-1

The film didn’t feel very dated to me at all. It features some of the earliest use of digital effects in a film, but they’re brief and done quite well. The rest of the film is done practically and holds up well. The Westworld setting looks vastly better than the briefly-glimpsed Medievalworld and Romanworld setting in that the sets are more developed and there are exteriors as well, but nothing looks too notably cheap in the film.

The plot is pretty simple, but the themes the film grapples with are fascinating, and the actors all do a good job carrying things along, particularly Yul Brynner as the menacing gunslinger figure.

This is science-fiction cinema as I like it; intellectually fascinating, prescient (hearing people be baffled by the very concept of a computer virus is humorous in hindsight) not bloated or overcrowded with ideas or plot, using interesting visuals to tell a story about technology and humanity. A very enjoyable film. I give it four circuits, and a malfunctioning snake.

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