The 70s were a real proving ground for the basis of today’s sci fi films. Sure there was sci-fi before the 70s, but the late 60s through the next decade really took sci-fi into the popular mainstream much in the way horror is right now. It kind of started with 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, which gave way to films like the Planet of the Apes series, The Omega Man, THX-1138, Silent Running, Slaughterhouse Five, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and of course, Star Wars. In 1973 a writer broke onto the movie scene with his debut film which he wrote and directed called Westworld.
In the near future, Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and his friend John Blane (James Brolin) are going on vacation at a resort known as Westworld. Martin has just gone through a tough breakup and Blane swears Westworld is just the thing to take his mind off his troubles. Westworld is an authentic recreation of the old west, but with the inhabitants of the dusty town played by realistic humanoid robots. You can live out your dreams of being a gunslinger and kill the bad guys without ever really hurting another human being. After Martin and Blane arrive and Martin shoots down a mysterious gunslinger (Yul Brenner), a computer malfunction causes the robot gunfighter to go rogue and begin hunting down the vacationers turning their idyllic vacation into a deadly nightmare.
Westworld is one of those 70s sci fi films that you remember nostalgically, but it really doesn’t age as well as you would have hoped. Like many films of that era, the fashion and set design say much more about the time the films were made than the future they depict. Nevertheless, Westworld is a lot of fun and a film that obviously inspired much sci fi that came after it. There are especially hints of films like The Terminator in there, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Blu-ray from Warner Brothers is a nice restoration if not exactly revelatory. There is still a fairly heavy layer of grain in the film and the whole thing does have a slightly washed out look to it, but this is definitely the best the film has ever looked in your home. Colors are natural and detail and clarity are greatly improved over the old DVD. A nostalgic throw back and a decently fun sci fi action film, Westworld is a great addition to the slew of catalog gems released as of late.
Available Now on Blu-ray and DVD.