When a film promises rogue cowboy robots, there is destined to be a particularly high level of enjoyment. Westworld explores the chaos that follows when the robots that operate on a futuristic, fantasy amusement park suffer a serious malfunction. The film opens with an advertisement for ‘Delos’ the amusement park that costs guests $1000 dollars per day. It is quickly explained that the park is separated into three different fantasy worlds; MedievalWorld, RomeWorld and most importantly WestWorld. As satisfied and enthralled customers return from their stay, they are interviewed about their experiences and the roles they played. The androids that have replaced actors are designed to respond to guests requests and are programmed to obey the guests; talking, acting and even bleeding like real human beings. After this effective introduction, the real story begins. Our two protagonists travel into the amusement park, soon to be faced with chaos and massacre as the robots begin to turn on humanity.
I have always held a soft spot for 1970’s horror and science fiction cinema. Westworld lived up to this standard and although it is by no means a masterpiece it was thoroughly entertaining and enhanced by its aesthetic beauty and energetic soundtrack. Music and film are combined well throughout and emphasise the fun and suspense of the story. Westworld does not take itself too seriously but still maintains its substance. Certain tongue-in-cheek elements compliment the eeriness of the narrative and the developing events. The cross over of western/horror/science fiction is well thought out and executed. The characters are pretty disposable but still likable and avoid becoming irritating like so many horror films allow them to. The film conjures up many a question; some of which are answered well and others that are left for the audience to figure out. Certain holes in the setting and story are easily over looked due to just how enjoyable this film really is.
James Brolin’s character is arrogant and cool. His character’s relaxed nature becomes his eventual downfall. In a future where humanity trusts machines entirely, our characters are criticised for being so laid back in the face of danger. Forgetting to see androids as a threat becomes their greatest error. Yul Brynner gives an iconic performance as the gunslinger/android who is out to kill any humans who cross his path. An eerie performance stems from Brynner’s strong screen presence. His interpretation of both machinery and murderer has clearly influenced horror and science fiction cinema since. Cameron’s The Terminator owes a debt to The Gunslinger and John Carpenter supposedly based Michael Myer’s indestructibility around Brynner’s character. Westworld splits its time between all three alternative realities and this results in an effective narrative structure. The 88 minutes of running time allows the film to unravel quickly and the story never drags. There is no explanation for the malfunction in the robots’ set-up. This uncertainty emphasises the unexplained chaos that swarms in and out of each scene. With no real conclusion, Westworld emphasises the importance of fun and madness that contemporary science fiction so often forgets about.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.