Saturday, 12 June 2010

Logan's Run (1976)

The decade before Star Wars was in some ways a golden age of science fiction movies. It produced a diverse crop of interesting and thoughtful movies in the genre, movies like Colossus: the Forbin Project, The Andromeda Strain, Silent Running, Solaris, Westworld, A Clockwork Orange, Five Million Years to Earth, Demon Seed and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Unfortunately that decade also produced turkeys like Logan's Run. It’s not that Logan's Run isn’t fun. Much of it has a genuine so-bad-it’s-good quality to it, and the first half can now be enjoyed as classic 70s camp kitsch. Visually it’s like a bad episode of Star Trek, only worse. The costumes are without doubt the worst in the history of science fiction movies (although some people might feel that a scantily-clad Jenny Agutter almost makes it all worthwhile) . It’s not the lack of modern special effects that’s the problem, it’s the fact that the visuals are so badly thought out. A city of the future that looks like a 1970s disco.

In this city of the future people live purely for pleasure. They have everything provided for them, and they can have lots of guilt-free sex. The only downside is, you’re only allowed to live to the age of thirty. When you hit that milestone you participate in a bizarre ritual called the Carousel, which offers the promise of rebirth. If you don’t want to accept this arrangement your only option is to become a runner, in which case you’ll be hunted down by the Sandmen. Logan 5 is a Sandman, and like most of his fellow Sandmen he enjoys hunting down runners. Then he finds himself about to run out of time, faced with the choice of termination or becoming a runner.

Michael York does a reasonable job as Logan, despite the deficiencies of the script and some truly embarrassing dialogue. Jenny Agutter is extremely good (and looks absolutely gorgeous) as Jessica 6, a young woman who may be able to help Logan find an escape route.

Peter Ustinov is astonishingly annoying as an old guy who teaches Logan and Jessica the Important Moral Lesson of the film – that living for pleasure is bad and that they need to return to Traditional Family Values and get married. And Jessica should start having babies as soon as possible. He’s so annoying that you start to think that killing people before they get old isn’t such a bad idea after all.

The movie drags on and on until it finally reaches an inept and completely unsatisfactory, but by that time I was just relieved it was finally over. Most of the second hour of the movie could, and should, have ended up on the cutting room floor. Including all of Peter Ustinov’s performance.

Fans of 1970 TV will want to look out for Farrah Fawcett in a small role.

It’s not the worst science fiction movie of the 70s. It’s nowhere near as awful as George Lucas’s THX-1138. And unlike that excruciating mess it does at least have the potential to be enjoyed as a classic bad but fun popcorn movie.

Silly fun if you're in the right mood.

1 comment:

Fang Shih-yu said...

There was high hopes on this becoming the next sensation, from what I recall of the advertising back then. I also remember the Marvel Comics adaptation and the short-lived TV version.

With a drastic rewrite of the script, a remake of this could sell like the "reboot" of Battlestar Galactica.