The JOE-DOWN Reviews ‘Westworld’

Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Westworld.”

The info:

The Movie: “Westworld”

Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin

Director: Michael Crichton

Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85 percent

Our take:

Froemming: It was time for us to visit the movie where Michael Crichton envisions a theme park where scientists’ hubris at playing God ends up a giant, horrific mess for those attending. A theme park where visitors can revisit the past through technological advancements, only to end up having to face their own ethical views on science, God and humankind.

I’m obviously talking about “Billy and the Cloneasaurus.”

Wait, no, before Crichton ran with this same premise later in life with dinosaurs, he did in the 1970s with robots.

I am starting to suspect the famed author was once traumatized at Disneyworld. There is an obvious pattern here.

I decided we needed to watch “Westworld,” a movie full of ’70s swagger from Christian Bale James Brolin who brings his divorced buddy to shake the blues by killing and having sex with robots in an old west theme park.

When I got divorce, Brown offered me his support, friendship and an ear to listen to my problems. Way to drop the ball, Brown. This seems much more fun.

While I debate which robot-man is more terrifying, Schwarzenegger in “Terminator” or Yul Brynner in this, why don’t you give us your first impressions, Brown?

Brown: Dude, I couldn’t bring you to Westworld during your divorce. A day at Westworld costs $1,000, man. You do what I do for a living. It’s just not going to happen. 

So I don’t have HBO, which is a point of contention for myself and Froemming (and a few other people). It means that I know little of shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones.” I know there’s an HBO show called “Westworld.” And before this movie, I just assumed it was, from what I had heard, a futuristic Western. That is a paradox to me, like trying to relax.  

Then after watching the trailer, I had questions: 

  • What vacation would I enjoy more: Westworld or the hero fantasy from “Total Recall?”
  • Who chooses the Wild West as a relaxing vacation? If something involves taking a dump in an outhouse or (with the Roman and Medieval worlds in this movie) a chamber pot, I don’t consider that a vacation. 

Froemming, while I clean the sex robots after a night of, ahem, action (a topic I have many questions on), get us started.

Froemming: Gross.

Anyway, we open with what looks like a TV reporter doing man-on-the-street interviews with people who just visited a theme park called Delos. This seems more like a commercial than journalism, but I have such little respect for TV journalists that it could all be the same to me I guess.

And, frankly, after being at a theme park — which is exhausting — the last thing I would want to do is talk to some goofball with a mic asking questions about where I was just at for a few days. And, given the pervy overtones of some of this park, I doubt the FCC would allow 90 percent of the real answers people gave to this guy. 

Then we are on an airplane with Peter Martin and John Blane (Brolin), where Peter is being too talkative on a flight. Nobody likes a jabbermouth on a plane ride, even your friends, Pete. 

Brown: As a morbidly obese man, I hate airplanes. Because I’m the asshole that no one wants to sit by. But I don’t feel as bad as John Blane should. 

Also, not a plane in this movie. They go to Delos on a hovercraft, which I’m guessing was the peak of 1973 aspirations of travel behind the flying car from “The Jetsons.”

So Delos has three “worlds” you can visit:

  • Westworld, where you can relive the lawless days of the U.S. Western frontier.
  • Medievalworld, where eating the Swanson is an everyday thing. Also, sex with princesses. 
  • Romanworld, where you can become Hedonism Bot from “Futurama.” Also, sex with… everything.

Froemming, given these options, what world are you going to? I’m in for Romanworld. I don’t have any desire to shoot someone to fit in at Westworld and I’ve just never been into medieval things.

Froemming: Honestly, I would go to Westworld. Romanworld, there is not enough bleach in the world to convince me that place is anything but forever unclean. And Medievalworld, I have no interest in that goody King Arthur nonsense. So I would go to the Old West, throw back some whiskey and shoot at robots. 

On the hovercraft we see a few other people heading to the theme park. We don’t get much introduction beyond what seems like a woman in a passionless marriage getting excited for PervTown, USA and Dick Van Patten for some reason.

When they land, there is a color code for each theme park people must follow. Which is weird because signs would probably work better, since there are colorblind people and the blue and red would be very confusing to them. 

So we enter Westworld, where the robots look exactly like humans. Except for their hands. They are basically as bad at hands as Fabian “Febby” Petrulio was at lips with his sculptures.

Brown: I probably wasn’t paying that much attention, but I didn’t notice or remember what was said about what makes the robots’ hands so different from a human’s. 

With that said, the entire movie, I was getting vibes from the Itchy & Scratchy Land episode of “The Simpsons.” In fact, I was expecting to hear this during the hovercraft ride: 

We then get some exposition on how these worlds work. 

The clothes, beds, etc. are all authentic, which again is a problem when you’re on vacation and want to, you know, enjoy and sleep on a comfy bed. 

Robots cannot hurt humans. And visitors cannot hurt other visitors. The guns in Westworld won’t shoot at anything with a hot heat signature; only at the cold, cold heart of a robot.

… That makes no damn sense. I don’t care how “cold” a robot’s heart is. You’re in a setting with a hot sun and arid, desert conditions. With robots under layers of realistic skin and wool clothes. The robots will be plenty warm.

Froemming: I will let Michael Bay explain this to you.

Yeah, the science doesn’t make much sense. Especially at the end, when the Gunslinger’s gun runs out of battery power.

Now Peter has all sorts of questions, such as how does he know who is a robot and who isn’t. They look real, and killing them certainly looks real too. Then there is the whole sex robot stuff that he has some ethical issues with, and John Blane just looks at him like a moron every time these conversations start. 

And Peter gets his first dose of the Wild West while at the bar, after failing to order a vodka sour at a whiskey joint, coughing at the harsh whiskey, and then being mocked by a man dressed in black called the Gunslinger. And, honestly, I enjoyed this character. Rarely talks, and when he does, it is because he is mocking people. Basically a homicidal version of The JOE-DOWN.

Brown: The Gunslinger also dies so many times in this movie that he should be played by Michael Biehn in the TV show. 

After getting to kill the Gunslinger and bangin’ some floozies at the town brothel, Peter is all about this vacation. Meanwhile, John continues to be a pawn store Man With No Name played by Christian Bale. 

Yes, like you, Froemming, James Brolin’s similarities to Bale was distracting to me. 

During the night when all the guests are (presumably) asleep, trucks drive to each world and pick up each robot for repairs and maintenance. My question is this: what time are they picking up these robots? I ask because Froemming and I are night owls due to our jobs. I go to bed around 2 a.m., so between truck sounds, the giant-ass spotlight they use and people working through the night… that’s going to break the illusion to anyone who falls asleep after midnight.

Froemming: It is probably why these parks get people all liquored up in the daytime. Yeah, I am awake until 2 or 3 a.m. every night, but if I have a few in me, I can pass out earlier I guess. 

Meanwhile, we see the scientists are noticing the robots are breaking down more and more often, which I mean, they are taking bullets and swords into their machinery, so I imagine they would be breaking down all the time. Plus, we see later, if they get wet they explode. But only with water, we see the Gunslinger throw back whiskey and nothing happens to him. Because that is how science works.

One scientist thinks a virus is spreading, causing these breakdowns and is laughed at. This movie predicted computer viruses, which is kinda impressive since it came out in 1973, a time when a computer took up a whole building.

Brown: Froemming, we all know this computer virus is some biological weapon that Dr. Anthony Fauci invented in a lab in Wuhan. And it’s useless for robots to wear useless masks against a computer virus that’ll only kill a small fraction of them. And the robots are attempting herd immunity by just all getting it and being over it. And something about masks and child sex trafficking? I dunno; I read about all this on Facebook and I will NOT be inconvenienced by this computer virus, Froemming!

Froemming: I see you, too, have done your research at the totally unbiased www.plandemic.rightwingnation.conservativeamericausa.blogspot.com

Brown: MY BODY, MY CHOICE, FROEMMING!

(Note: I am vaccinated and believe in none of the things I just said. And you’re an asshole if you’re not working on getting vaccinated to help end this stupid pandemic)

Froemming: Meanwhile, Peter is seduced by a sex robot at a brothel. His buddy is all-in on the robot sex, but he seems a little putoff by it. Is it the hands that takes him out of the mood? Or is it the ethical questions on cleanup that Brown raised earlier?

Brown: Frankly, like Randal Graves, I want to know how much these people are paid to, ahem, clean out these robots. 

Froemming: Best part about that clip is the angry customer is buying windex and paper towels. 

Again, that would be why I would avoid RomanWorld, that place would just be disgusting. 

While they are having James Bond-style loud sex with robots, outside we hear a bank robbery. Why not go to the robbery after the, ahem, “sex” they just had. Would give the cleanup crew time to do their thing.

The next morning, Peter is in the tub singing loudly and probably upsetting everyone, including the robots. And the Gunslinger returns, this time to confront John. Who is technically the father of Thanos, so we know how that will end.

Also, technically the father of Jeff Winger, but that was all during a gas leak, so I don’t think it counts.

Brown: After, you know, saving his friend’s life from a literal gunslinger, Peter is put in jail for murder. 

Wait, how does that work? This is a fantasy vacation and yet, a customer is going to get locked up? 

Froemming: Well, I for one, BACK THE BLUE, Brown. What do you have against police arresting murderers? You’re sounding like ANTIFA now. 

Brown: I support good robot cops, like RoboCop. Not these corrupt Western sheriffs. 

John devises a plan to break Peter out of jail by *checks notes* using high powered explosives that absolutely would have killed Peter in his cell. 

… That doesn’t happen and we get a jailbreak. 

During the escape, the sheriff is shot and Peter and John head out to the desert on horseback. 

Question: What happens during these vacations when an important robotic figure gets killed? We see one of the guests blunder his way into the sheriff role, but what happens the next day? Is the robotic sheriff repaired and put back in power, or is the visitor the sheriff until he leaves? Doesn’t that break the immersion for customers who are there for, like, a week?

Froemming: We see those guys in the computer room altering the stories for the guests, so maybe they keep the guy sheriff? I have no idea.

Anyway, while out in the desert, we see signs of things starting to break when a robot snake bites John. If you are going to have a robot snake, why give it actual fangs? This whole operation seems like a giant insurance liability problem for any corporation. 

Brown: If 1990s WWF taught me anything (and it taught me a lot, Froemming), you never piss off a rattlesnake. 

Froemming: When they get back to town, they play cards as a bar brawl breaks out. I was hoping for some…

We get a good brawl, just no roadhouse roundhouse kicks. Our heroes get blacked out drunk and in this stupor, we see things going all crazy over in MedievalWorld. One of the patrons, his story is to fight the Black Knight.

Which I am sure he expects to go like this:

Instead, it goes more like this:

Brown: The sword fight is the epitome of someone picking up a sword and being like “I’ve seen this in movies before!” 

And the guest’s sword skills are on par with the Star Wars kid or the Afro Ninja

Shit gets real for our main characters when, in a hungover walk of shame, Peter and John are confronted, once again, by the black-clad Gunslinger. John reluctantly accepts the challenge, only for the Gunslinger to gun him down in cold blood. 

Three thoughts:

  • Even if you make it so the robots aren’t supposed to shoot customers, why are you giving the robots live rounds in the first place?!
  • All I could think of during this scene is when Chucky did the ol’ live round swaparoo in “Child’s Play 3.”
  • How the hell did John take a live round TO THE HEART and get up to say something to Peter? Yeah, it took two well-placed rounds to put John down for good. You’d think a robot could execute a kill shot.

Froemming: Well, when we see how the Gunslinger sees things, I kinda get it. Everything is so pixelated, you’d think you were playing an old Atari game. 

Peter, our goofball hero, is now being hunted by the Gunslinger like Bart being chased by Principal Skinner.

Meanwhile, the scientists see they have a major problem on their hands, what with the attractions killing the guests and all. The virus has spread and overtaken all of the machines. And they are killing everyone! 

Brown: You know, I was hunted once. I was hitchhiking through Oregon when some cop started harassing me. Before you know it, the cops were chasing me through the woods. I had to take ‘em all out. It was a bloodbath!

Froemming: You’re confusing your life with Rambo again.

Brown: Like I mentioned before, Delos has become Itchy & Scratchy Land. 

Not only are all the guests being slaughtered, but the machines have gone full HAL-9000 and gone against their creators. The scientists that supervise the robots during the day kill the power, only to be locked in the command center with no oxygen. 

Peter tries to ambush the Gunslinger, only for his stalker to be one step ahead each time. Peter goes so far as to ride a horse out of Westworld and into Romanworld, where people are either dead from exhaustion from all the orgies or legitimately dead. And somehow, he finds a hatch that leads to the underground where all the scientists work. 

As Peter’s looking for anyone that can help, the Gunslinger is hot on his trail.

Froemming: Well, he did get a bit of advice from an employee the Gunslinger shot dead moments later, something about acid will mess with the robot. Luckily, Peter ends up in a lab with the acid he needs to thwart this killing machine.

And he does it basically like this:

He pocket sands the Gunslinger with acid and we see its face starting to melt off. It gives him time, and the robot’s vision has gone all chucklehead on it, but it continues its chase.

Then the Gunslinger catches up, his vision all goofed up on him and only seeing heat, like The Predator. He has no idea where Peter is because he stands next to some well-placed torches, which I imagine would mess with the robots on this part of the park. Peter then SETS IT ON FIRE because, well, it is his only option I guess.

Peter runs off yet again and ends up in what I think is a…

And sees a woman in chains asking for help. Peter gives her water, which she says she does not want and she blows up. If it had been whiskey, she would have been just fine, like I mentioned before.

Brown: My hypothesis: Robots in “Westworld” operate like robots in “Futurama.” Alcohol fuels them. And water, you shouldn’t drink the stuff. Fish (REDACTED) in it. 

We get one final scare as a burnt-up Gunslinger emerges from the shadows, only to pass out like Homer Simpson does when Ned Flanders talks to him about apple cider. 

As Peter sits back and exhales after all this carnage, we hear the Delos slogan: “Boy, have we got a vacation for you.”

Next time, rent a cabin, pal. 

Froemming, let’s go to recommendations while I decide what acid to throw at this robot that’s stalking me. 

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

Froemming: Yeah, I really enjoyed this. I really did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

Brown: Sure. This was some ol’ fashioned ‘70s futuristic fun. And it doesn’t even crack 90 minutes, so it’s a short, enjoyable time.

Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN

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