|'in true Sci-Fi style, once you've become romantically involved with a robot, there seems to be no turning back'|
Essentially a Sci-Fi Western, before Cowboys & Aliens decided the consign that genre to the grave, Westworld reads somewhat like a near-Christian treatise. Directed by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, the two projects share similar themes, exploring non-Godly creationism and the effects this can have on a minuscule society.
In Westworld's case, that society is the lascivious microcosm of Delos, a collection of three futuristic theme parks where punters can indulge themselves in recreations of the Wild West, Roman times or a Medieval keep. Crichton poses the question 'what would society do if it could go back?' and answers it by providing bar brawls, quick draw shoot-outs and rampant sexuality. The behaviour Delos encourages is strictly of the bawdy type and, in true Sci-Fi style, once you've become romantically involved with a robot, there seems to be no turning back.
The punishment for the high-living individuals of Westworld, in particular Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, is dealt out by the robot inhabitants of the parks who, in true Crichton style, aren't quite as controlled as their human parents believe them to be. Yul Brynner features heavily, somewhat sending-up his plethora of appearances in Westerns of the decade. Brynner's main section, the final third, is somewhat of a let down, delivering little apart from a couple of the film's scariest moments and spending far too much time following a foot chase that never quite gets exciting enough.
The first third too perhaps spends too long getting going, although the background of the behaviour from the resort residents is key to the tense middle third, when Crichton starts to subtly weave in elements of narrative threat. At eighty-eight minutes, the film is ultimately a little slight to be considered anything other than a worthy attempt, the director never giving himself time to explore the facets of his story but, there's still plenty here to like and enough of a well-realised dystopia to ensure it endures for a few years yet.
Westworld was available to watch using Lovefilm Instant, for users with an appropriate subscription.
'an interesting concept that is wonderfully brought to the screen by Michael Crichton' - Hot Dogs In The Dark, 4/5