So who was the terminator before the terminator was the terminator, and what did Jurassic Park have in it before it had dinosaurs? Would you believe, Yul Brynner and robots? West World, made in 1973, features Brynner as a luxury theme park robot that malfunctions and begins a relentless pursuit of the protagonist. Sounds familiar, huh? Oh, yeah, did I mention it was written and directed by Michael Crichton?
West World, interesting enough as an obvious precursor to both The Terminator and Jurassic Park, is worth watching in its own right. The film also stars Richard Benjamin and Josh Brolin, and while they are okay as theme park attendees, Brynner, who appears in full Magnificent Seven regalia, is pitch perfect as the android, and he serves as a reminder of what movie tough guys were like before Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Here’s a hint–they were way cooler.
The film is also a reminder of the difference between a science fiction movie and a movie set in a science fiction setting as it presents a somewhat disturbing picture of amorality made possible via technological achievement. Sure, it’s great, but there’s gotta be a price to pay for that, right? Spoiler alert–things don’t go entirely as planned.
It’s also more relevant than ever, what with people like Stephen Hawking sounding the alarm regarding the dangers of A.I. Viewed in this light, the following quote from one of the engineers is slightly terrifying. Let’s hope it’s not prescient.
“We aren’t dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment. Almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they have been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.”