Film: Westworld

"Boy, have we got a vacation for you!"

Westworld is a 1973 film by Michael Crichton. In the near future, the Delos resort offers simulations of The Wild West, Medieval Britain, and Ancient Rome. Each park has a population of robots, who visitors interact with however they wish. As a part of the Delos experience, one can fight with them, seduce them, and even kill them. After all, the robots are programmed not to feel pain or fight back, and the weapons provided only work on machines. They're harmless.

Two friends, John Blane (James Brolin) and Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin), arrive in Delos to get away from their busy lives. They head into Westworld, where John has been many times before, to have fun and act out various Western-themed scenarios. In particular, the mousy Peter earns his manhood by defeating the local gunslinger (Yul Brynner) in a duel. In the middle of the night, the robots are rounded up and sent in for repairs, ready for the next day's events.

However, the technicians running the park are having problems. The robots break down faster than expected, the memory wipes are less effective, and they begin to resist the visitor's demands. It is speculated that a computer virus has infected the machines, one that soon causes them to murder humans. Alarmed, the head engineer orders everything shut down immediately, but this only results in suffocating everyone in the control room to death (!). With the machines running amok, John and Peter discover the gunslinger has come after them, looking for revenge...

A sequel, 1976's Futureworld, removes the original's giallo influences, being more akin to a sociopolitical thriller. The Delos resort has been revamped and re-opened, and a pair of Intrepid Reporters (Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner) are invited to preview the park's attractions (including a new theme park, Futureworld), but soon learn that Delos' backers have much more sinister plans for their improved robots... Notably, Yul Brynner's "Gunslinger" shows up in Futureworld, but only in a Dream Sequence and having absolutely no logical connection with the original character. Both movies were followed up by a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld.

A television series remake of the movie is slated to air on HBO in 2015. It will be the directoral debut of Jonathan Nolan, who is Christopher Nolan's brother.

This work contains examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Daphne.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: This movie was made long before the idea of a "computer virus" entered popular knowledge, yet they do refer to it as a "disease."
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Delos resort descends into one.
  • Bald of Evil: Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger.
  • Bar Brawl: John and Peter participate in a simulated one. It involves lots of broken bottles and chairs.
  • The Cameo: Yul Brynner in Futureworld.
  • Determinator: Years before Arnold codified it, Yul Brynner gave us the original unstoppable killing machine...
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Gunslinger before his rampage. He was meant to be snarky in order to goad tourists into gunfights.
  • Diagonal Billing: Yul Brynner at lower left, Richard Benjamin at upper right.
  • Downer Ending: Technically it's a Bittersweet Ending in that Peter makes it out alive, but it's presented on such a dour note that it might as well be this. Most of the guests and technicians in Delos are dead at the end, and most the robots 'died' when their batteries ran out. Peter finds a woman chained and begging for help, and tries to offer her water... only to short her circuits. He doesn't even get the satisfaction of saving someone else's life, and is pretty much the last survivor we know of at the end of the film.
  • Dream Sequence: In the sequel. Provides an excuse to revisit the Gunslinger character.
  • Drink Order: They don't serve vodka martinis in Westworld, dummy.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Only Peter survives, and all other on-screen characters are confirmed or most likely dead.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Gunslinger's first criticism of Peter is that he is sloppy with his drink. Somewhat subverted as he is programmed to goad people into fights.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Gunslinger.
  • Girly Run: Peter. Not sure whether this is Richard Benjamin's natural gait or a deliberate way of invoking the character's effete, citified nature in contrast with the Gunslinger.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Turns out the new infrared tracking suite that the Gunslinger was upgraded with works excellently - too bad the safeties are long turned off when he starts using it.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The robots aren't supposed to be able to hurt guests.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: Happens when the Gunslinger tries to shoot Peter with a rifle.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Of the robot rebellion variety.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: This is one possible interpretation of when Peter finds a woman in the dungeons of medieval world near the end of the film. He initially believes her to be a fellow guest left chained up when the robots ran amok either as part of a capture-and-escape fantasy like the jailbreak in Western World, or else maybe as some kind of kinky bondage game. Then he finds out she's a robot when a drink of water shorts her out. If one thinks the implication is that she was probably chained up as part of some sicko human's torture and rape fantasy left uncompleted when the robots revolted, then it is this trope. But if one believes she was actually placed there as part of the authenticity of the world, it is not.
  • Implacable Man: The Gunslinger is more-or-less the predecessor to The Terminator in all but name.
  • Ironic Echo: "Have we got a vacation for you!"
  • Jerkass: The Gunslinger starts out this way as he is programed to goad anyone near him into a duel.
  • Kill It with Fire: After acid didn't work so well.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The closing credits feature jocular western music that eventually fades into this.
  • Made of Iron: The robots, of course. Slightly less so in Futureworld.
  • Narm: In-Universe. The more silly "performances" of the tourists at Delos certainly qualify. Justified considering they aren't trained actors and are basically hamming it up for fun to emulate what they've seen on tv and film. The robots within are also deliberately over-the-top personas and cliches as the setting dictates. For some viewers all of this can become a case of Narm Charm as it adds a certain authenticity to what is essentially an adult theme park. Peter lampshades this to an extent when he talks about feeling silly but he eventually starts to enjoy it. Until things go wrong that is...
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Does this take place in 1974, or what?
  • No OSHA Compliance: The main control room has no emergency exit, and shutting down the power means they can't open the doors at all.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: But acid? That's okay.. Note that they actually show robots drinking in the bar fight scene.
  • Oh, Crap: Peter's reaction when the Gunslinger shoots John.
  • Red Right Hand: Robots can be identified by the palms of their hands.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The only dead giveaway between a real human and a robot is that the scientists haven't programmed particularly good hands for the machines.
  • Robo Cam: The first use of CGI in a film is the Gunslinger's comically low-resolution POV.
  • Rule of Three: The Gunslinger attacks 3 times, the third becoming deadly.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The VTOL pilot.
  • Spiritual Successor: Crichton's Jurassic Park takes the same premise and puts dinosaurs in place of robots.
  • Sex Bot: Pretty much all the female robots at Delos.
  • Sword Fight: One of the guests dies during one in the Medieval World.
  • Tempting Fate: "Nothing can go wrong."
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The robots, particularly the Gunslinger.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, the robots' hands (their faces are actually realistic, since they're played by real actors).
  • Unusual User Interface: Shifting geometric shapes appear on at least half of the monitors in the control room. However, they are all either in empty terminals or the technicians aren't doing anything with them, so it might just be a nifty screensaver.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: All three Worlds. Justified since it is, quite literally, The Theme Park Version of these eras.
  • Zeerust: The control room. They had control tapes.

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