Westworld [Blu-Ray] Michael Crichton

Westworld [Blu-Ray] Michael Crichton
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Following the success of The Andromeda Strain, both in book and film form, medically trained science fiction novelist Michael Crichton cooked up a narrative that he felt would only work in a visual medium. With one TV movie under his belt already, the ambitious young storyteller decided to take the reins and direct Westworld himself. The roots of his most lucrative and omnipresent offering to pop culture, Jurassic Park, can clearly be traced to this tale of wish fulfillment gone wrong. In a not too distant future, West World is one of three adult theme park vacation packages offered by the Delos Corporation, along with Roman World and Medieval World. Each controlled environment is designed to authentically emulate the indicated time period and is populated by robots indistinguishable from living, breathing humans — except their hands, for reasons unexplained. The story, inspired by Disneyland's Lincoln exhibit paranoia, follows a couple of buddies staying in West World for the tidy sum of 1,000 per day. John Blane (James Brolin) is an easy-going regular, while Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) is a nervous newcomer in desperate need of some manufactured confidence following the breakup of his marriage. Little time is spent exploring the personality types drawn to the other "worlds," beyond the indication that women are far more likely to be drawn to the sexual freedom of Roman times than men, who tend towards the violent, ego-boosting power fantasies of cowboys and knights. After getting into the swing of things by repeatedly blowing away a surly gunslinger (a creepy, steely-eyed Yul Brenner) and bedding a few robo-hookers, John and Peter find their carefree adventures cut short when the robot safety protocols malfunction, throwing the entire park into chaos. Before the film slides into a protracted chase sequence for its final act, Crichton explores corporate greed and the increasing likelihood of ordered systems submitting to the laws of entropy the more complex they become. It's both a strangely prescient and dated cautionary tale, one that pushed the boundaries of special effects at the time, but unexceptional character development, a bit of shaky logic (there really is no reason for robots to be carrying lethal weapons) and unremarkable cinematography prevent Westworld from attaining greatness. The special features for this beautifully restored Blu-Ray include a heavily padded "Behind the Scenes" that would be more appealing were it edited down to just the interview segments with Crichton and the pilot of the short-lived and hard to find follow-up series, Beyond Westworld. That it was yanked off the air after three episodes is hardly surprising. The show, which centred upon a Delos security chief investigating the sinister plot of a mad scientist, was horrible, even though it beat the second version of Battlestar Galactica to the punch on the "androids hiding among us" paranoia. (Warner)