Thursday, April 15, 2010


Year 2, Day 104 - 4/14/10 - Movie #469

BEFORE: A different type of disaster film - one that takes place at a theme-park where people interact with life-like robots, in environments designed to replicate the Old West, the Roman Empire, and medieval times. This was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who later explored a similar idea in the novel "Jurassic Park" - also known as "let's clone some dinosaurs, what could possibly go wrong?"

THE PLOT: A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.

AFTER: Continuing my theories about the differences between men and women - according to this film, the ideal vacation for a man would be in an Old West town, where he can drink whiskey, get into bar fights, shoot a man (robot) just to watch him die, and then go have sex with a (robot) prostitute. Sounds about right... By contrast, the women would tend to visit the medieval section of the park, where they can dance, attend banquets, and have chivalrous men (robots) compete in jousting competitions to win their favor.

Presumably, the more ribald of both genders would be most interested in Roman World, where the debauchery of the Roman orgies are re-created...but conveniently this is left out of the film, to maintain some modicum of decency, and a PG rating.

But let's be clear, we're talking about indulging the basest of male + female fantasies - so that would be everything up to and including simulated rape and murder, which is justified only by the presence of robot victims, rather than human ones. Does that make it OK to indulge? Where do we draw the line on robot rights?

And supposedly there are multiple safeties to ensure that people can't be harmed while on their fantasy vacation - the visitors to Westworld can't be shot by a robot, but that barfight still had the potential for injury. Getting thrown off a balcony or getting a bottle broken over your head could still be dangerous. And what about a guest punching out another guest, since theoretically you can't tell the guests from the robots. Then you've got the sword fights in the medieval section, or the possibility of contracting an STD at the Roman orgy...

Yul Brynner is perfect as the deadpan gunslinger - who takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He gets shot up by the guests, but after a few minor repairs, he's back for revenge - there's no question he was the inspiration for Arnold's Terminator robot, who was just as hard to destroy.

It's fun to see the 1973 depiction of the future, with a bunch of lab technicians in white coats, sitting in a room full of giant computers with those big old spinning magnetic tape reels, saying things like, "You mean it's something like a human virus...but one that affects computers?" Yeah, genius, now that we live in the future we just call that a computer virus.

So, whatever happened to the Westworld concept? Did the idea of sex with robots go the way of flying cars and personal jetpacks? We've got electric cars and the interwebs, but the best we can do for entertainment seems to be 3-D movies and Playstation 3 games, even virtual-reality turned out to be a big disappointment. There are rumors of a remake of "Westworld" to be released in 2012 - maybe this will remind people how far we still have to go.

Also starring Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten, and Majel Barrett (from "Star Trek") as the local madam.

RATING: 5 out of 10 breakaway chairs


  1. Hmmm... Robot rights... interesting that an excellent Star Trek:TNG ep had this very theme. There was an episode called "The Measure of a Man," where Data resigned his commission rather than be dismantled for research and potentially the expansion of the android race. A hearing ensued to determine whether or not Data was indeed a sentient being, and it was determined that he was. Which begs the question -- where do we draw the line when we create robots to do our bidding? Makes me think of the bomb-disarming robots. If I spend years building and programming a robot to disarm a bomb, what if I become attached to it and I don't want to put it in harm's way? It's my friend now, I call it "Sparky" and I've also trained it to fetch my newspaper and turn off the light when I fall asleep. I'm getting off topic here...

    Anyhoo, there's another similarity to ST:TNG, the safety protocols. I do recall several "holodeck" eps where crew members are having some relaxing fun on the holodeck and the safety protocols fail. You're talking about the FRIGGIN' FLAGSHIP OF THE FEDERATION and the safety system on the holodeck fails??? Can you think of a more embarrassing way for the Captain of the Enterprise to die? Playing a detective in a murder mystery???

    Umm... what movie were we talking about again?

  2. You're not off topic at all - in the sequel to "Westworld", there's a human mechanic who lives with one of the older androids as his companion - the robot makes drinks for him, they play cards together, and when it's time to leave the park, it's very difficult for the man because of the emotional attachment he has to the robot. Even if the robot has no emotions, the man's personal connection to the 'bot is real.

    And more embarrassing than dying on the holodeck? I don't know - catching alien syphilis from a random encounter with a green chick? Kirk never seemed to worry about that though...

  3. Apparently somebody did not forget about the sex with robots concept: