Friday, March 2, 2018

Movie Review: Westworld (1973)

Westworld (1973) written and directed by Michael Crichton

The Delos company presents the ultimate resort vacation--a chance to live in the past. Their amusement park features three different worlds: (1) Roman World, where visitors can relive the pagan heyday of Pompeii; (2) Medieval World, where visitors can relive the chivalrous times of 1300s Europe; and (3) Westworld, where visitors can enjoy life in the American southwest circa 1880. The guests interact with lifelike robots who fulfill every dream imaginable. The guests can outdraw a gunslinger, take part in a barroom brawl, take advantage of a brothel's services, etc. Everything is safe because the robots are run by computer and programmed not to harm the guests (by either killing them or resisting their amorous advances). Havoc breaks out when the computers break down, leaving guests to fend for themselves.

The movie's basic premise, providing an amusement park where people can be as lawless as they want in a safe environment, is interesting but not very deeply explored. This is more of a science fiction horror tale. The reason for the break down is not nearly as important as the action and mayhem it causes for the visitors. At times the action looks cliched. Since the place is an amusement park, that makes sense. Guests' expectations need to be met--Medieval World serves turkey legs not pizza and Westworld serves whiskey not vodka martinis. The bar fight has the standard thrown chairs, broken tables, and smashed bottles. The cliches end when the violence gets real, giving the movie an exciting  (though not very upbeat) finale.

I enjoyed the creative approach that has been copied since (the theme park run amok in Jurassic Park or the robots turning on us in Terminator). The music and special effects are dated now, but if you can forgive the original King Kong its stop-motion animation, surely allowances can be made for Westworld.


Parental warning: This is a high-end PG--the violence is fairly brutal and there's one bedroom scene without nudity but it is pretty clear what's going on.


  1. I was wondering how the movie held up, having enjoyed it when it was shown on TV (long ago before DVDs). Recently we watched season 1 of the series West World, which begins before the movie events take place. It is highly violent, though that is fairly well telegraphed thankfully, and definitely not for kids. In fact, I wasn't sure at one point if I'd finish watching the season - though I was glad I did.

    1. I just rented the TV show through my local library and enjoyed it for the most part. My problem was some stuff that seemed like continuity errors or bad storytelling. By the end, most everything made more sense (there was one twist that didn't make sense, but one among five or six isn't so bad). That inspired me to rent the movie (also available through my local library!). Watching the movie and reviewing it goes a lot quicker, so it made it to the blog first. The TV show review is coming.

    2. The movie isn't that deep but it did have Yul Brynner. Who I love. Ed Harris is great but no one is Yul Brynner. :-D