Now this is going to be a fun movie to watch, especially since it probably has a lot more name recognition with most people thanks to the show on HBO. Now way back in the video store days, I remember seeing the video case for this movie as a kid and it always seemed to draw me in. I mean, you have a robot cowboy that goes around killing people. What about that wouldn’t be interesting to a kid. I did eventually rent it and thought it was a great movie, made even better years later when I learned that Michael Crichton didn’t just write this but also directed it. So let’s introduce some people who have only watched the recent show, today’s movie, Westworld.
The plot: In the year 1983, a company called Delos offers a brand new theme park, where guests can enter three themed areas (Westworld, Medievalworld, and Romanworld) and interact with life-like robots. Peter Martin and his friend John Blaine are heading to Westworld, and Peter is asking John all sorts of questions about it, as it is his first time there and John has been there before. When the arrival at the main terminal, the board a cart to take them to their assigned world, stopping at the outfitters to get dressed in clothing from the time period. When they arrive in Westworld, Peter starts feeling silly over the whole idea but John convinces him to try and have some fun. The two head to the saloon and as they are having a drink, one of the robots starts insulting Peter, as it is programmed to instigate a fight. John convinces Peter to engage it and when Peter does, the robot challenges him to a duel and Peter manages to draw his gun first and kill it. Later, Peter wonders if he might accidentally shoot another guest with the gun and John has him try to shoot him, then explains that there is a sensor in the gun that prevents them from firing on anything warm blooded. After having dinner at the hotel they are staying in, the pair head to the local brothel and pick up two women. As they are about to head upstairs with them, they hear a commotion outside and are told some men are robbing the bank. Peter wants to go help fend off the robbers but John tells him that it’s some other tourists that are robbing the bank. As night falls, the Delos clean up crew arrives and carries off all of the dead robots from the day’s adventures and takes them to the repair bay. In the repair shop, the chief supervisor notices an increase in malfunctions among the robots, starting in Medieval and Romanworld and has since spread to Westworld. when he mentions it is like an infectious disease, one of the scientists scoffs at the suggestion but the supervisor tells him that these are complex machines, some of which were built by computers, they don’t know exactly how they work. The next morning, the repaired gunslinger shows up at the hotel, holding John at gunpoint, but Peter manages to kill him again. Peter ends up being arrested but John helps him break out of the prison, shooting the sheriff in the process, and they ride out of town. As they lounge about in the desert outside of town, a rattlesnake approaches them and they try to shoot it and eventually kill it but not before it bites John. Peter asks if it is real but John says no, then gets upset as it shouldn’t have happened. In the control room, the chief supervisor learns of what happened and has his team go pick up the snake immediately so they can examine it. Meanwhile, in Medievalworld, one of the guests, who is acting as a king, attempts to seduce a chambermaid but is rebuffed. The supervisor has the robot brought to the repair bay and so they can examine her. The next morning, the king goes to get some breakfast but ends up being challenged by the Black Knight in the dining hall. As the two men fight, the Black Knight deviates from it’s programming and starts winning the fight, then wounds the king. In the control room, the chief supervisor yells for them to cut the knight’s power but are unable to stop it from killing the king. Meanwhile, in Westworld, Peter and John wake up, having taken part in a drunken barroom brawl the night before, and encounter the gunslinger again. Peter jokingly tells John it is his turn to deal with him and as John turns to face him, the Gunslinger shoots him. John reacts in shock to being shot just as the Gunslinger shoots again, killing him. The Gunslinger then challenges Peter, who quickly runs and grabs a horse to leave town but the Gunslinger chases after him. In the control room, the chief supervisor orders the power to be cut for the whole park, hoping to shut the robots down but the robots continue attacking guests all over the park. When they can’t restore back-up power to the room, the chief supervisor tells them to get the doors open or else they will suffocate in there, as the ventilation system isn’t operating. Back in the desert, Peter encounters a worker out in the field, who is frightened by Peter at first until he has Peter show him his hands to prove he is a guest. The worker tells him the robots are malfunctioning and Peter asks him what he can do. The worker tells him some options to destroy the robots, like acid, or wait till it runs out of power but says he doesn’t have a chance and Peter rides off, just as the Gunslinger kills the worker. Peter keeps running and eventually reaches Romanworld, where he finds a courtyard full of dead guests and robots. Making his way through the courtyard, he finds a manhole cover and moves the manhole to enter the sewer system, which is actually the service tunnels for the workers. Making his way through the tunnels, he comes across the control room but finds all of the people inside dead, as they were unable to get the doors opened before they suffocated. Meanwhile, the Gunslinger has followed Peter’s trail to Romanworld and made it’s way into the tunnels. Peter reaches the repair bay and, hearing the Gunslinger coming down the tunnel, lays on one of the tables to pretend like he is a robot needing repairs. The Gunslinger enters the room and looks around but doesn’t see Peter at first, allowing Peter to throw some acid in it’s face. Peter leaves the room, with the damaged Gunslinger following him but after firing and missing him, it is unable to shoot anymore as it’s gun has run out of power. Peter makes his way to the Medievalworld’s dining room, and attempts to avoid the Gunslinger when it follows him. As Peter ducks underneath some of the torches, he realizes that the gunslinger can’t see him, as the torches confuse it’s infrared sensors. The Gunslinger can still hear him and as he makes a slight noise, Peter grabs one of the torches and sets it on fire. Peter leaves the dining room and ,finding a woman chained to a dungeon wall, frees her and attempts to help her only to discover she is a robot as well when he accidentally shorts circuits her. As Peter backs away from her, he encounters the Gunslinger, whose body is completely charred, and it attempts to grab him one last time but ends up falling and finally short circuits due to all the damage it sustained. An exhausted Peter then sits on the dungeon steps to rest as the Delos slogan “Boy, have we got a vacation for you.” goes through his head.
Westworld met with high praise from the critics, holding an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Yul Brynner gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy in this amusing sci-fi/western hybrid.” While Yul Brynner’s character of the Gunslinger was iconic in it’s own right, but served as the inspiration for John Carpenter’s Michael Myers character as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the Terminator. The movie was a box office success, earning $10 million off of a $1.25 million budget and spawned one sequel and two TV series, one in 1980 and the more recent one now airing on HBO.
This is such a great movie to watch and definitely indicative of Crichton’s theme in his writings. The acting was great, with Yul Brynner doing an amazing job as the Gunslinger and you could definitely tell how other movie characters would come to be patterned after his consistent and dogged pursuit of Peter. James Brolin (Josh) and Richard Benjamin (Peter) were also good in their roles as well, but I honestly liked Alan Oppenheimer’s performance as the chief supervisor a little better and wished that he had a bigger role. The story was great, which is not really surprising considering the writer, and I liked the theme of technology eventually turning on it’s owners, which admittedly is a common sci-fi theme but it was well written in this movie. The idea of the robots all malfunctioning and the malfunctions spreading like a virus through the park was actually a great plot line and I wish they could have gone a little deeper into that aspect but there wasn’t enough time for it. The special effects were pretty good for the most part, especially since this was the first time computer digitized images was used in a feature film (not counting computer monitor graphics), but I did think they could have done a better job with the blood, as it really just looked like red paint. The blood is honestly my only real complaint about the movie as I think that this is definitely a great movie and one that I highly recommend people watch.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5