Westworld (1973) – Review

The Delos amusement park provides rich vacationers a way out of their normal, stagnated lifestyle, so that they can live out their fantasies through the use of android robots that will provide them with anything they want. Peter (Richard Benjamin) and John (James Brolin) choose a wild west adventure which sees the pair being stalked by a robotic Gunslinger (Yul Brynner) that malfunctions after a computer breakdown. Not a film I’d recommend strongly but there are certainly worse ways of spending an evening.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Director: Michael Crichton
Writers: Michael Crichton
Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin

Seventeen years after the release of Anastasia (1956), a movie recently reviewed on the website, a slightly older and more experienced Yul Brynner starred in Westworld, a famous Sci-Fi release from 1973 that has most recently found itself the subject of a television series reboot, starring the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood. It’s worth noting that a sequel to Westworld, called Futureworld, was also released a few years later, which incidentally turned out to be Brynner’s last before his death.

The main strength behind Westworld would have to be its unique concept and general storyline that the filmmakers managed to create. The visuals also seemed impressive for their time, with the western world including many things you’d anticipate seeing in a western film. The saloon scenes for instance, provided authenticity and even small amounts of humour too.

In terms of the cast, despite being billed as the top star for the flick, Yul Brynner’s contributions were relatively limited, with very little dialogue and screentime. Interestingly, however, it’s commonly known that Brynner’s portrayal as the robotic “Gunslinger”, was used as a basis for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator character in the 1984 release, The Terminator. There were certainly similarities between the two.

Elsewhere, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin starred as Peter Martin and John Blane respectively. The pair warranted a large majority of screen presence and their tight friendship seemed convincing enough to the casual viewer. Norman Bartold and Victoria Shaw were also present, adopting the roles of Medieval Knight and Medieval Queen, but only really appearing in the latter stages of the film.

Westworld probably doesn’t hold up too well if you’re watching this for the first time in 2022, especially if you’re hoping to see a good amount of Yul Brynner, but for what it’s worth, I can certainly understand the praise upon its original release in 1973, particularly considering the interesting and unique original concept. Sadly, however, the latter stages seemed to peter out and become somewhat drawn out and predictable in nature. An iconic Sci-Fi flick to some, but not one I’d say was a standout.

“Get this boy a bib!”

Gunslinger – Westworld

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