Soylent Green [Blu-Ray] Richard Fleischer

Soylent Green [Blu-Ray] Richard Fleischer
Its reveal may have become a pop culture punch line, its style outdated and direction more than a little shaky, but Soylent Green still contains seldom explored ideas that are as relevant as ever. Overpopulation ― the most realistic threat to our species and habitat, which is routinely glazed-over in sci-fi films ― provides the background for director Richard Fleisher's take on Harry Harrison's novel, Make Room! Make Room! Rather than explore the roots of the problem, aside from an introductory montage on general industrial progress, Soylent Green opts to tell a pulpy detective story against this rich framework of social decay. Charlton Heston stars as NYC Detective Thorn in the year 2022. The city's population has skyrocketed to 40 million and the police are barely more restrained than vigilantes, ransacking crime scenes and only just controlling hordes of malnourished humans while an opportunistic upper class floats atop the mass misery. Heston's Thorn is a cocky bully made sympathetic by virtue of not putting up with the gut punching of prostitutes and his campy friendship with Sol Roth (the charming Edward G. Robbinson in his 101st, and final, film ― MGM pays tribute in one of two vintage special features). Thorn is called in to investigate the death of the president of the Soylent Corporation, the company responsible for publicly rationed meal tablets purportedly made out of soy, lentils and algae. The case leads him towards sinister secrets about the company's recipe, but the main plot isn't really what's interesting about the movie; it's the societal regression to an old-West mentality playing out in basic human interactions that makes Soylent Green a fascinating, if not satisfying, experience. Women are actually called, and used as, furniture ― Thorn's love interest, Shirl, comes with the room the murder happened in. Since the case is under his jurisdiction, she is under his jurisdiction. Actress (and UN Environmental Program special advisor, apparently) Leigh Taylor-Young contributes to a feature commentary with director Richard Fleischer and is by far the better spoken of the two, though her contributions are infrequent. Fleischer's explanation of the old school haze effect they created for certain outdoors shots is pretty cool; they filmed through a water filter with green dye in it. It doesn't work so well in practice, but the idea is worth preserving and perhaps revisiting, much like most of Soylent Green. (Warner)