Westworld (1973) – Michael Crichton

20 years before we were welcomed to Jurassic Park, and things went sideways, Michael Crichton created another park, where you could see and do amazing things, it was called Delos, and there were three destination worlds held within it, yours for the enjoyment for $1000 a day. You can visit Roman World, Medieval World, or West World.

You can lose yourself in the world, be a hero, a villain  and do whatever you like. The robots are programmed to never hurt the human guests, or let harm come to them, it’s a playground for adults.

But, things go disastrously wrong. Of course.

Crichton wrote and directed this entry on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list, and it’s a lot of fun. It has a fantastic cast, including James Brolin (who looks like he’s having a lot of fun in this one), Yul Brynner (playing the role of the unstoppable Gunslinger, which is almost a callback to his role in The Magnificent Seven, even wearing the same costume), Dick Van Patten, and Majel Barrett (Star Trek).

westPeter (Richard Benjamin) and John (Brolin) take a holiday in Delos, deciding to visit West World. John’s been before, and had a great time, and has finally convinced Peter the lawyer to come with, while he moons over his ex-wife. John settles into the world right away, enjoying it to the full. It isn’t until after Peter’s first confrontation with the Gunslinger, that he begins to get into it – shooting the robot down. The duo start to enjoy themselves, playing cards, carousing with the ladies, and drinking in Miss Carrie’s (Barrett) place. Brolin is a delight in these sequences, he constantly has a grin in his face and laughs a lot. He looks like he’s having a really good time.

Every night, the worlds reset, and repairs are carried out, but it seems there are glitches and program errors leading to a massive failure in the park. Snakes bite, black knights kill, and the Gunslinger keeps coming back, finally killing John and sending Peter running.

delosThe Gunslinger chases Peter through all the worlds, and the underground control complex, where nothing is safe.

It’s a western with a sci-fi twist, and it’s a lot of fun.

Who wouldn’t want a place like Westworld, or one of the other worlds, where you can indulge your fantasies and dreams?

The film would garner a sequel a few years later called Futureworld, but the concept wasn’t executed to blockbuster success until Jurassic Park.

Brynner is a precursor to the Terminator, seemingly unstoppable, and the lighting effects on his eyes (and contact lenses I’m sure), completed the robotic feel of the creation. He served to inspire John Carpenter’s creation of Michael Myers in the original Halloween. He’s very creepy, and watching the hunt between him and Peter is a little unnerving. Despite the fact that Peter knows the Gunslinger is a robot, he still almost treats him like a human enemy. That’s unfortunate, because he’s been given enhanced audio tracking and infrared vision, allowing him to track Peter almost anywhere. He finally realizes how he’s being tracked in the film’s climax, and it’s a nice and tense little moment.

The film looks great, even 40 years on, yes, the introduction to Delos via the staged interviews at the hoverport seems a little cheesey, but the rest of the film holds up really well.

Have you seen it?

What’s your fave Crichton movie or book?



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