Sunday, March 26, 2017
Written and directed by Michael Crichton, Westworld is the story revolving around an amusement park for adults where they pretend to be in the American West and have fun until some androids malfunction and kill off some guests. It’s a film about the dangers of technology and what happens when the fantasy turns against the individual trying to live that fantasy. Starring Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and Yul Brenner. Westworld is an intriguing and thrilling film from Michael Crichton.
The film is the story of a couple of guys who go to this theme park for adults where they can delve into any fantasy world they want to be a part in whether it’s the age of the Romans, medieval times, or the American West where they can do whatever they want with the androids they encounter. Yet, something goes wrong during this vacation where guests pay $1000 a day for their own desires to be fulfilled where the androids suddenly go rogue due to some malfunction. Michael Crichton’s screenplay has a very simple structure yet it slowly plays into the moments everything goes wrong where it also shows what is happening behind the scenes as the people who created the androids suddenly have no control of what is happening. Though the objective of the park is giving people a chance to play fantasy and be unharmed, that fantasy becomes reality once everything else goes to shit.
Crichton’s direction is very simple as it starts off with this ad about this amusement park and the people who have returned as the announcer says “Boy, have we got a vacation waiting for you”. Then it cuts from being a small TV aspect ratio ad into a full-on widescreen experience as it play into what these two men are about to go into as one of them had been to the park. Many of Crichton’s compositions are simple as it pays homage to films set in the American West and medieval times with some stylistic elements that includes some slow-motion action for the former. There are also some chilling and suspenseful moments once it reaches the second half involving the character of the gunslinger (Yul Brenner) where Crichton shows exactly what he sees as it is one of the very first moments in film that uses digital image processing as it adds to the film’s climax where a protagonist has to deal with the gunslinger without any tricks. Overall, Crichton creates an engaging and whimsical film about a theme park for adults that goes horribly wrong.
Cinematographer Gene Polito does excellent work with the cinematography as it is very straightforward with its gorgeous lighting and moods for some of the interior scenes at night as well as in the rooms where the scientists work at. Editor David Bretherton does terrific work with the editing as it has some elements of style in some slow-motion cutting as well as some jump-cuts. Art director Herman A. Blumenthal and set decorator John P. Austin do fantastic work with the set design as it play into the different areas of the park such as the look of the castle interiors in the medieval times area and the look of the American west in the western area. The special effects work of Charles Schulthies is wonderful for the look of what the androids see from their perspective as well as in some of the look of the androids in what they look like from the inside. The sound work of Richard S. Church and Harry W. Tetrick is superb for the sounds of gunfire and other objects that play into the worlds that the characters are in as well as the technological sounds in the computer rooms. The film’s music by Fred Karlin is wonderful for its mixture of musical styles that play into the different worlds with some orchestral pieces to play into its suspenseful moments.
The casting by Leonard Murphy is great as it include some notable small roles from Anne Randall as a medieval servant named Daphne, Terry Wilson as a sheriff, Victoria Shaw as the medieval queen, Linda Scott as a French prostitute, Michael Mikler as the black knight, Majel Barrett as a brothel madam, Norman Bartold as a man pretending to be a medieval knight for his fantasy, and Alan Oppenheimer as the supervisor watching over everything in the park as he tries to figure out what is going on with androids. Dick Van Patten is superb as a banker who goes into the west in the hopes he can become a cowboy where he is quite funny in his attempts to become a sheriff.
James Brolin is excellent as John Blane as a guest who had visited the park as he guides his friend into what goes on while becoming aware that something isn’t right. Richard Benjamin is brilliant as Peter Martin as John’s friend who is new to the experience at the park where he would have fun until he too becomes aware that something isn’t right. Finally, there’s Yul Brenner in an amazing performance as the gunslinger as it’s a variation of the character he played in The Magnificent Seven where even though it is a supporting role. It’s a performance that is just unforgettable in how menacing his presence is as he becomes the one android that goes completely rogue.
Westworld is a remarkable film from Michael Crichton. Featuring a great cast and a fascinating premise that blends all sorts of genres. It’s a film that definitely showcases what happens when a theme park for adults become a nightmare when the robots suddenly go rogue. In the end, Westworld is a marvelous film from Michael Crichton.
© thevoid99 2017