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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin
Warner Home Video
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 15 September 2008

Delos is the ultimate theme park holiday resort. For $1000 a day customers can live out their fantasies in one of three controlled zones: Romanworld, Medieval World or Westworld - interacting with other holidaymaker role-players and state-of-the-art robots. Friends John and Peter live out the dream in Westworld... until things begin to go seriously wrong. When minor technical faults escalate, the resort robots carry out their programming with no thought or consideration to the safety of the guests. For John and Peter that means fleeing for their lives from a relentless killer gunslinger...

Here we have a movie which sets the benchmark, showing every aspiring filmmaker how it should be done. Westworld is in my top dozen films of all time, and it's easy to see why when you examine the inherent structure. It's based on a book by Michael Crichton, bestselling author of The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, The Terminal Man and many others. However, a good book does not necessarily transfer smoothly to the big screen. One of the strongest attributes Westworld possesses is the fact that it works equally successfully as a western, science fiction, technological thriller, disaster movie, action adventure and, in places, feel-good light comedy - whilst maintaining an essentially genreless mainstream stance.

If I only had one word to sum-up Westworld it would be Fun. Right from the off, we're caught up in the enthusiasm of first-timer Peter Martin, reflected in the knowing smile of his experienced friend John Blane. We soak-up the ambience of the old west in the form of course whisky in the saloon, horse riding, a shoot out with a gunfighter, the pleasures of the cathouse, a jailbreak and a bar room brawl. The scientists running operations behind the scenes are shown in brief snippets with no wasted dialogue, so as to not detract from the main events hotting up for our protagonists. Similarly, we're kept up to speed with some events in Medieval World, and in particular a guest's fatal confrontation with the Black Knight. The escalating tension as we approach the conclusion has the same feel as the film Duel - also from the early seventies. This is not only due to the tight script but exemplary acting. There's not a single bad word to be said about Yul Brynner's portrayal of the black-garbed robot gunslinger. It's just so powerful, and it's this performance alone which turns a good film into an excellent one. I simply cannot sing his praises enough.

To paraphrase the movie tagline: Boy, have we got a movie for you.

This release might well have earned full marks, but as I only received a basic DVD-R blank disc copy, I can't comment on the packaging or the presence or otherwise of extras.


Ty Power

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