January 20, 2013
Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and Yul Brynner
us today, or see your travel agent. Boy, have we got a vacation for
At one point in the late 60's or early 70's,
science fiction author Michael Crichton went to Disneyland for the
first time and he was fascinated by what he saw. Between
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Pirates of the Caribbean, what he
saw were lifelike animatronic figures that were frighteningly realistic
and, if you didn't know any better, could easily pass as being actual
human beings. He was astonished at how real they looked and
how much technology it must have taken behind the scenes to get those
After his shock at seeing how far technology had come in the world,
after his amazement at how realistic the animatronic figures looked and
acted these days, obviously the next step for a writer like Michael
Crichton was to sit there and wonder, "Hey, I wonder what happens if
these things go berserk and they start attacking people? What
happens if Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, and the pirates start
Does that quote sound familiar to you? Well it should.
It is a quote from Michael Crichton's 1993 hit movie
Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum says it right before Jurassic
Park breaks down and the dinosaurs start attacking everyone.
Well this isn't a review of Jurassic Park.
No, this is a review of Michael Crichton's FIRST attempt at Jurassic
Park. In fact, some would even say it is the better one.
This is a review of the very first "Pirates of the Caribbean
breaks down and the pirates start killing people" movie, Michael
Crichton's 1973 movie Westworld.
No longer the happiest place on Earth
Westworld is one of those movies that is very well known to people of a
certain age. If you grew up in the early 70's, if you know
anything about 1970's science fiction, obviously you know all about it.
This movie was a big hit at the time and it was a major
science fiction movie of its era. In fact one could easily
argue it is one of the single most influential movies that has ever
been made (more on that later).
However, if you did NOT grow up in the early 70's, there is a good
chance that you have NOT heard of Westworld. For whatever
reason this movie seems to be virtually unknown among people who were
born after 1980. Heck, I was born in 1974 and not only did I
not see it until a couple of years ago, I had never even HEARD of it
until I was in my mid 30's. And that is pretty amazing for me
to never have even heard of a movie, because I know so many
random obscure little movies from the 70's and 80's that it is not even
I will tell you where I first was tipped off about Westworld.
One day I was watching the DVD commentary for my favorite horror movie
of all time, Halloween. And John Carpenter was talking about
where he came up with the idea of Michael Myers. Because
remember, there had never been a quote/unquote "slasher" movie prior to
Halloween. There had never been any sort of template for that
type of unstoppable killer until John Carpenter invented it in
1978. People forget this, but prior to 1978 there was no
Michael Myers type of movie character.
Well John Carpenter was talking about how he came up with the idea of
Michael Myers, and in the DVD commentary he said that he basically just
stole the idea from a movie called Westworld. He said that he
loved Westworld so much, and he loved Yul Brynner as the unstoppable
gunslinger so much, that he basically just ripped off the idea (and he
ripped off Yul's walk) when he created Michael Myers.
And I remember sitting there thinking, wait what? WTF?
How is it that I have never heard of Westworld
The original Michael Myers. The original Jason Voorhees. The
original Terminator. The grandfather of all of them.
Westworld is the story of the most amazing theme park in the world.
It is called Delos and it is basically a completely
animatronic version of Disneyland. For a thousand dollars a
day, people who want the vacation experience of a lifetime can travel
to Delos and they can visit one of three "lands".
They can go to Medievalworld, which is a faithful representation of
living in a medieval castle.
They can go to Romanworld, which is a faithful representation of the
excess of ancient Rome.
Or they can go to Westworld, which is a faithful representation of
being a cowboy in the Old West.
Visitors to Delos can go to one of these completely animatronic,
completely realistic worlds. Where everyone they meet is a
robot and they are free to do whatever they want. And as the
advertisement on the radio promises, "Nothing can go wrong."
... go wrong...
... go wrong...
Well obviously it wouldn't be much of a movie if nothing went wrong.
I mean, come on, you've seen Jurassic Park. You
know how these movies work.
Our two main characters (Richard Benjamin and James Brolin) show up to
Delos as part of a vacation, and they immediately decide to go to
Westworld. After all, how much fun would it be to be a cowboy
in the Old West? Especially if you can shoot all the robots
but none of them are allowed to shoot you?
Oh yeah, and how much fun would it be to have sex with all the smoking
hot animatronic prostitutes?
"Yeah they look completely real. Everything but their hands."
Well our two heroes show up to Westworld and for the first day or so
they have a grand old time. They start an old
fashioned bar room brawl. They stage a prison break.
They visit a brothel. They take turns shooting the
shit out of the bully in the local saloon. For the
first day in Westworld everything is exactly as advertised.
It indeed is the vacation of a lifetime. And
nothing can possibly go wrong.
Our heroes in Western garb
Our hero blowing the crap out of the bully in the saloon
Well unfortunately day one is as far as their vacation gets.
Because on day TWO, well, that's when the shit kind of hits
the fan. That's when, for lack of a better term, a computer
virus sort of gets in the system. And suddenly the
animatronic robots at Delos go berserk and they start attacking people.
Yes, this is the part of Pirates of the Caribbean where the
ride breaks down and the pirates start attacking the guests.
Just like Jeff Goldblum talks about in Jurassic Park.
And nobody is more unstoppable than the bully gunslinger
The second half of Westworld is amazing. It is just Yul
Brynner walking around like a badass trying to shoot everyone.
And there is nothing you can do to stop him. When I
saw it for the first time I immediately thought, "A ha, now I see what
John Carpenter was talking about. This really IS like
Halloween. He is right when he says he completely ripped off
Westworld." And then the second thing I thought was "How come
everyone doesn't already know that? How come I am just
finding this out now?"
Now obviously Westworld was an influence on Halloween. John
Carpenter even tells us that himself. And since Halloween was
basically the template for every slasher movie after that, well that
makes Westworld kind of a big deal.
But wait. There's more. We are not done yet talking
about what a big deal this movie was.
Westworld was also a major influence on Jurassic Park. I
mean, duh. Michael Crichton wrote both of them and they are
basically the exact same movie. In fact you could easily just
call Jurassic Park "Westworld version 2.0." They both came
out of Michael Crichton wondering what would happen if things at
Disneyland suddenly went wrong.
But wait. There's even more!
It is impossible to watch Westworld (from 1973) and not also think of
The Terminator (from 1984). After all, you have an
unstoppable robot in black walking around killing people. And
that is all he knows how to do. He shoots and he kills.
And he feels no pity. Does that sound like Arnold
Schwarzenegger in The Terminator to you? Well I'm sure that
James Cameron sure saw Westworld before he made The Terminator.
Oh yeah, and then I have to add this:
See that image? That is a picture of Westworld as seen from
the robot's point of view.
Which doesn't sound like that big a deal, until you realize that THIS
WAS THE FIRST COMPUTER DIGITIZED IMAGE EVER SEEN IN A MOVIE.
Yes, that's right. You know how The Terminator and
Predator were famous for showing the world from a robot's point of
view? Well Westworld did it first. About a decade
earlier. Michael Crichton invented that storytelling
technique in 1973 in Westworld.
Westworld isn't the greatest movie in the world. It is kind
of cheesy (even by 1970's science fiction standards) and some of the
computers and technology now look downright laughable. But
damned if it isn't a fun movie that doesn't get the respect it
deserves. EVERYONE should know about Westworld, not just
people who grew up in the early 70's. Everyone should know
this movie inside and out, like the back of their hand. It is
that damn important. I mean, it basically influenced
EVERYTHING. Horror movies. Science fiction movies.
Creepy theme park movies. Cloned dinosaurs chasing
Kirsten Dunst movies. Westworld is the father of just about
of all them. It is a crime that so few people have actually
seen it (or even heard of it) before.
And again, I can't say enough about Yul Brynner as the gunslinger.
He should be right up there with the Michael Myers and the
Freddy Kruegers and the Jason Voorhees of the world. He was
that damn good, and he was that damn iconic. Yet no, I would
guess that 75% of the people who are reading this review are only
hearing about him for the first time right now.
It is a damn shame. This is why Westworld is a perfect movie
for my "200 Movies that Deserve More Love" countdown.
Oh yeah, and this. Yul Brynner is basically doing a parody of
his character from The Magnificent Seven.
In short, Westworld is one of those movies that you just have to see at
least once. It should be required viewing for anyone who has
any interest at all in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, horror movies,
James Cameron movies, science fiction movies, or Jurassic Park.
It is amazing that a movie like this came out in 1973, it was
so much ahead of its time.
For about ten years, I have been hearing rumors that Hollywood is going
to remake Westworld. Every couple of years you hear it pop
up in the news that a remake is being planned, and that they are
working on a script, and yadda yadda. I know for a couple of
years there were rumors that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to star in
the remake. But at this point in history (January 2013) it
has never actually happened. I know it WILL happen one day,
this movie is too cool for someone not to take the chance on.
But as of now there is still only one Westworld.
And I kind of like that.
By the way, for those of you who don't think that this was an
influential movie, check this out. My 10 year old son was
watching an episode of Jimmy Neutron this morning (I swear, it was
about two hours ago.) And at one point in Jimmy Neutron
one of the characters promises that nothing can possibly go wrong.
Then his voice tails off and it echoes "... go
wrong... go wrong...."
I am glad to see that the legend of Westworld still exists today, even
in random kids cartoons that were made forty years later.
Now that is one influential movie.
Stay here. I'll be back.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Westworld
Jurassic Park Version 1.0
- 24 July 2004
was the blueprint for what was later Jurassic Park. Here, Michael
Crichton first envisoned Disneyland, if the Hall of presidents ran
amuck. It provided many of the inspirations for later sci-fi films,
like Terminator. It was a great blend of action, horror, and comedy.
Benjamin and James Brolin are the heroes of the film, but Yul Brynner
is the star. He portrays a robot, based on his character from "The
Magnificent Seven." Brynner is the relentless killing machine who
fights until the end. With almost no dialogue, he conveys fear with
little more than expression and body language.
The film explores
old themes, the dark side of technology, but it was ahead of its time
in depicting the dangers of computers and automated systems. The
effects are dated, but the story holds up well. The sequel,
Futureworld, tried to add political intrigue, with less success.
Definitely one for the sci-fi fan or collector, or cult movie lover.
The age old science
fiction question. - 11 March 2011
happens when robots are integrated into our society, and they
malfunction turning against humans? Westworld is an early attempt at
this genre of science fiction, being released in 1973. The subject
matter is tackled in a creative way. This film takes place at America's
newest and most popular amusement park. Guests are able to choose from
a variety of three realistically simulated situations all referred to
as worlds; Romanworld, Medievalworld, and of course Westworld.
Romanworld is barely in the film at all only showing very brief
glimpses. There is actually a decent amount of Medievalworld shown
throughout the film. Unfortunately, there was never a big joust
sequence even though it was hinted at. Main focus, as if you didn't
know from the title, is Westworld. The movie starts off at a slow pace
introducing the concept, and effectively giving us a cinematic
representation of what it would be like for a first timer at the park.
Once the newcomer gets comfortable in his setting with the help of his
friend who has lived the experience all ready, the movie picks up the
pace and remains rather action oriented throughout the duration. All of
the typical things you would expect tourists to do in an old west
setting where there are no consequences, start occurring including;
shootouts, bar fights, jailbreaks, friendly saloon visits, etc… A
little over halfway through a serious problem happens, the scientists
are no longer in control of their robots. I will not get into details,
as I would hate to ruin the film. The acting all around is decent, but
in particular Yul Brynner, as the gunslinger robot, shines in what
might be the best portrayal of a robot I have ever seen in film. A true
classic, and one of my favorite movies.
For $1000.00 A Day
- 19 November 2007
can see the roots both in the plot and the special effects in Michael
Crichton's Westworld that can later be found in the incredibly popular
Jurassic Park series.
Like Jurassic Park the protagonists of
Westworld are a pair of wealthy American yuppies who are going to a
futuristic vacation resort. The place is called Delos and like
Disneyland with its separate theme parks of Fantasyland, Adventureland,
Frontierland, and the World of Tomorrow, Delos has three different
resort type places to visit, Romanworld, Medievalworld and Westworld.
two intrepids have chosen the Westworld experience. They get to mix and
mingle in an old west frontier town, or at least a Hollywood type
version of same and get the feel of western life. Included are
gunfights and bar brawls such as you see in any good Hollywood western.
This is what Richard Benjamin and James Brolin have chosen for
For reasons unexplained in the story, the whole
thing breaks down in all three theme worlds and in the case of
Westworld, a very nasty gunslinger robot has shaken loose from his
programming and is on the hunt for human targets. Will man with all of
his weaknesses defeat an apparently indestructible machine?
can also see some of the themes in the later Terminator films that
Arnold Schwarzneggar popularized. Here the relentless hunter is played
by Yul Brynner in the familiar black western garb that he made popular
in The Magnificent Seven.
The VHS copy of Westworld advertises
itself as the very first use of computer graphics. If that's the case
this is one unique experience for that reason alone and should not be
RIP Michael Crichton - 30
a movie... the precursor to Jurassic Park. Nothing like it had been
made before, and i doubt anything will match it. One of my all time
favourites. Crichton put down his pen, picked up a camera, and
effortlessly made a cinematic masterpiece. Yul Brynner as the renegade
cowboy-droid is sinister personified, the soundtrack is eerie as hell,
and the action scenes are somewhat Peckinpah-esque, which is always
good! MASTERPIECE! 70's movie-making at its peak.... i urge all of you
to watch it and bathe in the liquid genius. The two protagonists are
geeky and cool respectively and make for highly entertaining watching
as they peruse the delights of westworld... and the moment where they
realise things are out of control is genius.
BEST OF THE 70'S!
Definitely has held its
viewing value - 12 August 2008
is one of a handful of sci-fi films that seems to never age. Made
before Star Wars changed what sci-fi meant, it is more than just an
adventure in the future plot: it is a great idea - What if you could go
on holiday and be part of another world / time?
Wouldn't we all want that?
clever part is that Westworld puts us in a cowboy setting and then
introduces robots too - making the unfamiliar very familiar.
Western kind of plays out just as you would want it to - imagine you
were given such a holiday, you'd want gunfights and barfights and loose
women, and with the robots around the moral consequences are avoided -
until the robots go haywire.
Yes the computers look hokey, but
in 72 they did look futuristic with their 3D figure modelling, but
above all what makes the fliming stand out is great lighting, costumes
(All new enough to look as they a company had made them for the
experience), and good, clean directing and grading of film mean that
this is far more ageless that you'd expect.
entertainment with a brilliant turn by Yul Brynner as the robot cowboy
- his eyes may be glazed but his body language is pure dynamite.
One of the better films of its genre, and a great film in its own right.
That's Not Supposed To
Happen ! - 8 November 2008
is a luxury theme park resort where the tourists live out their
fantasies in fabricated worlds populated by lifelike robots. Peter and
John are holidaying in Westworld, a wild-west frontier town, when
suddenly the android programming goes horribly wrong …
written and directed, Crichton's first film is exceptional on multiple
levels - as a straight action movie full of dynamic fights, chases and
shocks, as an eerily effective blend of ancient and modern film styles
(the shot of the body-strewn main street at night as the technicians
come out is an astonishingly wrong image), and as a clever social
satire of theme parks and decadent consumer leisure gone insane. In a
strange way, the robots are almost more sympathetic than the humans -
after all, they're only doing what they've been asked to - whereas the
people are mostly corpulent pigs who demand what they've paid for. The
masterstroke is the casting of iconic Brynner as the indefatigable
black-clad gunslinger; not only is his physical performance
outstanding, but his presence links this futuristic science-fiction
film perfectly to a bygone cinematic age of epics and westerns. The
stunning half-hour chase between him and Benjamin which concludes the
movie is both great action and a mini-existentialist odyssey. Crichton
dispassionately documents the complete failure of the technicians'
ability to control their systems, but never at the expense of the
ongoing story - his sense of the rhythm of the plot is superb.
Featuring much excellent stuntwork and action choreography throughout
by the prolific Dick Ziker, including a stunning example of the
notoriously dangerous full body burn. This terrific science-fiction
cult classic exemplifies my three Golden Rules of good cinema; make it
original, make it exciting and make it stylish. Extremely influential
on many subsequent sci-fi flicks (notably The Terminator and Jurassic
Park), and followed by an enjoyable but unexceptional 1976 sequel,
Modest and successful -
17 December 2003
of the continuing Michael Crichton 'science is fallible' continuum,
'Westworld' is the sort of intelligent film that couldn't be made today
without elaborate special effects, lots of noise and a loud hip hopping
metallic score. It is a straightforward film that slowly exerts a grip,
not unlike 'The Andromeda Strain'. The texture is miles away from the
lumbering 'Jurassic Park' and subsequent clones.
scenes are fun with the characters Peter Martin and John Blane
immersing themselves into the fantasy of the American West. Richard
Benjamin as Peter Martin is very good, an ordinary guy initially
sceptical, then plunging into the play with gusto, then frightened as
the fantasy and fun turns to terror. He is completely believable.
later scenes are basically a chase but what makes it worst is that he
is being chased by a robot played by Yul Brynner. Yes, it's heroic
Chris from 'The Magnificent Seven' turned into a relentless inhuman
killer! It's a great piece of casting.
With atmospheric music
to propel the story along this modest film is a real sci-fi jewel and
deserves recognition as the fine forerunner of later but not better
Surprisingly very good!!!
- 6 June 2003
movie has mixed reviews on the imdb, I knew what to expect, but I wasnt
sure how good it would be, but it was great. The idea was very
outragous for 1973, and it still packs a punch now. I noticed that a
lot of newer movies have ripped this off, for example: How it showed
what the robot(Yul Brynner) could see in infered while hunting down
Richard Benjamin, this was used 14 years later in "Predator"(1987),
actually that whole final 20 minutes reminded me a lot of Predator. All
in all this is a worthy addition to my collection, stands the test of
time much better than any other sci-fi of its age.
favorite piece of trivia about Westworld:
* The first use of computer digitized images as part of a feature film
(not merely monitor graphics) was the Gunslinger's point of view in
Westworld. After the process was finally developed enough to produce
satisfactory results, it took a mere eight hours to produce each ten
seconds of Gunslinger's pixellated POV.
favorite scene in Westworld:
Pretty much any time
that The Terminator... I mean Michael Myers... I mean the Gunslinger is
on screen is an A+ movie moment. Oh and the last 20 minutes
of the movie are awesome.
at the IMDB
Back to 200
Movies That Deserve More Love