In 1973 we saw the release of Michael Chrichton’s first ever film, Westworld starring Yule Brenner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.
Westworld opens with a commercial; welcome to Delos. “If there's anyone who doesn't know what Delos is, well, as we've always said: Delos is the vacation of the future, today. At Delos, you get your choice of the vacation you want. There's Medieval World, Roman World and, of course, Westworld.”
In Medieval world it is all about the Queen, jousting, feasting, and sword fighting. Roman World is more about lounging around and enjoying *ahem* adult entertainment. Then there’s Westworld; where anyone can become a gunslinger or even the sheriff of the town. There are gunfights, bar room brawls, and bank robberies, not to mention Miss Carrie’s place.
This is where our two protagonists are headed off to. John Blane (Brolin) is a veteran to Westworld, having gone several times. However it is his friend’s, Peter Martin’s ( Benjamin) first time, and he is as giddy as any kid going to an amusement park for the first time – bombarding Blane with questions on the hovercraft ride over.
The first place they head is to the saloon to get some drinks (Whiskey only, no martinis in the wild west!) There they are bumped into by The Gunslinger played by Brenner. It is a simple confrontation where Martin gets to have his first gunfight, and wins.
Everything seems to be going smoothly for the tourists, but then we catch a glimpse behind the scenes where the scientists who run the park are struggling with robotic failures across all three worlds. Soon those failures turn deadly as the human fail-safes are turned off, and the operators cannot get them back online.
The Gunslinger, in particular, seems to have a personal grudge against Blane and Martin and keeps coming after them. Their fun vacation suddenly turns into a trap of terror.
“Westworld” looked far ahead of its time to imagine what resorts might be like in the future. “Total Recall” had a similar premise 20 years later. Immersing yourself into a total fantasy where everything around you seems real.
Although the special effects may seem silly by today’s standards, they were actually quite good for the 70s. Crichton kept them very simple, relying on his actors instead of a bunch of technology. Benjamin’s character grows throughout the film, and Brenner is perfect as the emotionless robot, absolutely terrifying in his relentless pursuit.
There are some inconsistencies in the film; why do the men not get hurt in the brawl scene? How do the swords in Medieval world not hurt other people? It is best not to think too hard about these things and just enjoy the movie.
“Westworld” was rated PG at the time of release, but would be considered PG-13 if released today due to scifi action and violence, some sexual references, and some mild language.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys watching films from past eras, and does not mind “antiquated” special effects. My husband and I enjoyed this film, while my 16 year old daughter deemed it just “okay”. We could not get my ten year old son interested in it at all.
I rented this film with my own funds