Yes, I said “Killer robot cowboys.”

Westworld (1973)

So as I’m watching Westworld, I can’t help but think that this is the perfect kind of movie for a remake. I know, I know. A lot of you out there are so anti-remake that you scoff at the idea of ANY movie being remade. But in some cases, like Westworld, a film has a great premise, a good backbone of an idea, but the execution is less-than-great. When I think of remakes of movies like Halloween, or The Birds, I think “Why? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, by that same logic, if it is broke, why not spruce it up a bit?

And what a premise this movie has: In the future (presumably), there’s a theme park where everyone can live out their greatest fantasy. That is, if their fantasy involves ancient Romans, medieval adventure, or the Old West. Because a company named Delos has created three theme parks (cleverly titled RomanWorld, MedievalWorld and WestWorld, respectively) where their patrons can visit and live like in the olden times and interact with androids who act in character with their worlds.

Eventually, the smart guys running the place (we know they’re smart because they wear lab coats) realize that the androids are acting kind of funny and before you know it, we’ve got a full scale robot rebellion on our hands. Oh, did I mention that the main antagonist, a robot gunslinger, is played by Yul Brynner?

With that premise — in short, killer robot cowboys run amok! — how could this not be a classic of proportions so big that I can’t even think of a clever word to describe them?

Well, basically, by having little to no death by robot until a good hour into the movie. Michael Crichton, who wrote and directed this, figured this out, I think, when he wrote Jurassic Park a decade or so later and, in a similar theme park-gone-wrong scenario, had his dinosaurs start chowing down on peoples almost immediately.

It’s not that this is a bad film. It’s completely entertaining and kept my attention regardless of its lack of robot death dealing, which says a lot. But really, the action doesn’t get going until the 3rd act of the film, when we get a swording and a Yul Brynner-inflicted gunshot. From then on out, Yul Brynner stalks Richard Benjamin for half an hour the efficiency and single-mindedness of a Michael Myers/Terminator lovechild.

If only the rest of the movie had been that fun. If only the robots would’ve gone nutso at about 30 minutes in and Crichton had kept up the pace for the next hour, with the final showdown with Brynner’s gunslinger taking place in the final act. Then this movie would’ve been classic. But instead, we get James Brolin (who looks creepily exactly like his son Josh) and Benjamin goofing around, getting in barfights with robots (complete with goofy saloon piano music) and having sex with robot hookers (okay, that part’s pretty awesome) and very little else. Occasionally, we’ll see the smart lab coat guys talking about why a robot rattlesnake bit someone when they shouldn’t have, but basically a whole lot of nothing happens when there was the perfect opportunity for a whole lot of awesome to happen. Though we do get to see Gunslinger Yul get killed like 3 times, only to be repaired and come back to life.

So that’s why I thought, “Wow. Westworld could totally be remade. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about killer robot cowboys done with today’s technology and done right?” Then I surfed on over to IMDb and found out that, yep, someone’s already doing it.

Oh well. I guess it’s back to work on my Rabid Dogs remake…

Viewed on DVD (Netflix Rental).

2 Comments

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