From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Wow. Wow. I love this movie! When I first saw it, I knew I had found a movie that fit me like a great, broken-in tee-shirt. The perfect blend of concept, action, and sweet sweet badass flavor that makes me giggle inside. Westworld is a film that I liked so much that I wonder how it took me so long to see it. I remember my dad talking about this movie when I was in high school but back then, I was not the movie-watching titan I am today. I am not going to write a lengthy review of this because there is not a lot to it. But that is the brilliance of Westworld and what made me want to dance around the TV.
The story involves a future in which people visit pricey resorts with elaborate themes. I know what you're thinking, what kind of madhouse reality are you talking about? I know it's hard to wrap your mind around, but bear with me. So it's a place where you can chose from three different "worlds": Romanworld, Medievalworld, and Westworld. Two businessmen, one of whom has been before, travel to Westworld for a weekend of gunslinger and general desperado-ing. What am I missing? Ummm.....they get to dress like cowboys............carry guns............oh yeah.........the other cowboys and gals are ROBOTS!!!!! Well, androids if you want talk geek semantics but still it's pretty freaking wild. So they run into a bad dudebot played by Yul Brynner and that's when things go wrong.
So this movie was written and directed by none other than late, great Michael Crichton. Oh yes, he wrote this little story about a theme park where crazy science was used to bring people a totally once-in-a-lifetime experience and then things went south and people died. So yes, similar in bare bones concept to Jurassic Park but that's where the similarities end. The concept, however, is the coolest thing about this flick. I mean a place where you can really exist in the old west and shoot anyone you want because they are all robots? What did I do to deserve this treat? (Oh there is an explanation about a body heat sensor in the six shooter so that guests can't accidentally kill other guests in case you are wondering). It was just so cool to pair a western with pure science fiction. That kind of genre clashing can be disastrous but in this case worked to a sweet perfection.
Two particular performances in the film also stood out to me as reasons to watch it: James Brolin & Yul Brynner. One of the businessmen is played by a young James Brolin (ok, in his 30's but younger than he is now). Brolin plays his part with a smarmy been-there-done-that attitude which adequately counterbalances Richard Benjamin's fish-out-of-water newbie act. Brolin is so cool in this. He is having a blast punching cowbots (my new term for the androids at the park) or banging the cyberhookers at the local brothel or simply chugging old fashioned XXX whiskey in the saloon. He is just plain cool, frozen even. Meanwhile, Yul Brynner rocks my galaxy as the psychotron with the gun. He keeps running into the businessmen again and again until the day he goes off the reservation (when the overlords of the park lose control of him). Then he is balls out menacing and kill-crazed as he chases them through all the worlds determined to punch their tickets. Awesome. He is stoic and speaks very little, but his presence is enough to at least make one uneasy. He is a great villain, and I guess I never would have thought that possible.
The script is very decent and allows for little to no boredom (at a concise 88 minute running time that's not hard to comprehend). I never really thought of Crichton as a director, and it doesn't appear he has directed much, but this is a solid first outing. The atmosphere is just right, like your favorite bath water temperature or firmness of the mattress you love. The framing of the shots perfectly compensates for the lack of big budget effects (hell, even if this movie had a stellar budget it wouldn't have mattered because it would still be 1973). But it does so without becoming lame or stretching beyond the realm of belief.
So grab some friends who like batshit 70's cinema, order a pizza, and a six pack of whatever bottled ambrosia you fancy and prepare for a freaking cool experience in Westworld. Oh, and tell the gals at Miss Carrie's that Casper sent ya.
Review by Casper Von Sidecar