So whatever happened to the planned remake of Westworld that was to star Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, it seems to have died a quiet death along with Arnie’s acting career . . .

Think Jurassic Park - but with cowboys instead of dinosaurs - and you will have a good idea of what Westworld, a 1973 sci-fi thriller written and directed by Michael Crichton, was like.

It is the near future, and people can visit an amusement park named Westworld in which human visitors can interact with advanced robotic gunslingers and saloon girls in a fake Western setting. The robot gunslingers are programmed to always let the human visitors win at the draw and we don’t even want to get into what it is hinted the sexy female robots are required to do to keep the male visitors happy. (Just how would that work?! The mind boggles . . .)

Anyway, seeing that this is a Michael Crichton movie (he also wrote Jurassic Park) things quickly start going wrong. During one gunfight a robot malfunctions and actually shoots a visitor. One has to wonder of course about the bright spark employee who thought that outfitting the robot gunslingers with live ammo was a good idea – a class action suit waiting to happen if ever we saw one! Then things start going really haywire as the movie follows two park visitors being doggededly pursued by a robot that looks like the cowboy dressed in black played by Yul Brunner in the classic 1960 flick, The Magnificent Seven. (The joke is of course that Brunner himself in fact plays the character.)

Much has been made about how the malfunctioning robot is in fact an early template for James Cameron’s The Terminator made more than ten years later, and with reason! The robot hunts down our two “heroes” (they are jerks really) with cold mechanical efficiency for most of the movie. Despite the dated tech (you just gotta dig those huge ‘Seventies computers that fill entire rooms!), Westworld is a brisk action thriller and it is understandable why Warners would be interested in remaking the movie. We don’t think that it is a good idea however . . .

"Jurassic Park - but with cowboy robots instead of dinosaurs!"

Leaving aside the obvious objections (Oh God! Another remake! Can’t they think up something original?) we can think of several reasons why a Westworld remake is a bad idea. For starters, Westerns are no longer as popular as they were back in 1973. Okay, the genre was already in decline even back then, but the point is that The Magnificent Seven was still reasonably fresh in audiences’ memories back in the early 1970s. Next year the movie will however hit the half-century old mark. And even if one throws out the whole Magnificent Seven allusion – which Western heroes do the public know nowadays except maybe for Clint Eastwood? At 78 we can just imagine him wanting to don his Man With No Name poncho and chase after misfortunate amusement park visitors . . .

Besides the Death of the Western, the whole Star Trek holodeck thing is pretty stale by now. In the age of the virtual reality worlds of The Matrix the movie-going public will probably think that the whole idea of a Western town inhabited by robots is just plain, well, cheesy. Most cinemagoers will think that it’s a Jurassic Park rip-off, even though it’s technically the other way round. No, best would be for Hollywood to drop the whole thing (which they seem to have done in any case) and try to come up with something new and original.

Besides, there are about a handful of novels by the now sadly deceased Michael Crichton that still hasn’t been filmed yet, prime amongst them the 2002 novel Prey about a swarm of sentient nanobots threatening a family. If that one doesn’t have “thrilling Hollywood blockbuster” written all over it then we don’t know what does!



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