The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Logan's Run

My timing really couldn't have been more impeccable. I just turned the big 3-0 a few weeks ago in mid-June. Through dumb luck, Turner Classic Movie's always solid schedule, and my inability to catch up with this movie over the years, I watched 1976's Logan's Run for the first time. The premise? A futuristic society where everyone is killed once they turn 30 to help control the population. Well, if that isn't downright bad timing, I don't know what is.

It's late in the 23rd Century and what remains of mankind lives in a domed city protected from all outer dangers. This is life at its hedonistic, fun-loving, screw the consequences best...with a catch. You get to live life to the fullest, but at the age of 30, you must undergo Carousel, a renewal process to let you start life over again. Among the population is a man in his late 20s, Logan 5 (Michael York), a 'Sandman' who helps track down 'Runners,' those not interested in the Carousel process. As he watches on renewal ceremony though, Logan begins to question more and more about the whole layout. Something just doesn't make sense. Something doesn't add up. The problem is though, he's good at what he does -- very good -- and doesn't want to risk anything by investigating. Some things though...they're just too perfect to pass up.

Well, here we sit. I do love me a good science fiction flick. I especially love those ventures from the 1960's and 1970's, movies like Planet of the Apes, Fahrenheit 451, Westworld, Soylent Green (more on that later), and The Omega Man. This flick from director Michael Anderson is one I've always wanted to see but never actively sought out. It is based off a novel by authors William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, but it sounds like the film and novel have very little in common other than the name and the basic premise. My biggest issue though? I liked it, but as has been the case with a lot of so-called twist movies, the twist works...but not afterward in using that all-important twist as a jumping off point.

It's my Christmas Eve theory all over again. Do you want the mystery of your presents or do you want to know what's under all that wrapping paper?!? I like the mystery so naturally, I love the build-up in mysterious, twist-based movies. The other issue is pretty obvious. Of course everything isn't hunky-dory in this futuristic world!!! It doesn't come as a surprise that the whole 30-year old Carousel renewal process is garbage. The build-up is solid as Logan 5 begins to piece things together. All humans have a crystal implant in their left hand inserted at birth and once they reach 30, it begins to flash. Your turn for renewal! I felt like something was missing. The "twist" seemed far too obvious to me, especially actually seeing the renewal process. Still, though there are flaws through the first hour of the 119-minute movie, it is still an above average, tension-filled sci-fi story. I just wish the second half could have followed suit with it.

The cast definitely has some fun along the way, whether it be starring roles or just key supporting parts. I thought York was okay as Logan, but it's missing something in that lead role department. His female companion is Jenny Agutter's Jessica, a 20-something young woman drawn to Logan who may know more than she's letting on. They spend much of the movie running for safety and whining when they have some free time. They just aren't the most compelling characters and that takes away from the drama and mystery. Richard Jordan is excellent as Francis, Logan's best friend and fellow Sandman who wants his friend to simply get in line, stop questioning and enjoy life but when it comes right down to it, he's got his own job to do. In other supporting parts look for Michael Anderson Jr., Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett (feathered hair and all), and Peter Ustinov.

Just last year, a movie was released that I don't remember seeing in any theaters, and I only noticed it on Redbox. It's called Space Station 76, and is a futuristic sci-fi movie, 1970's style. Just check out that poster! 'Logan' is a prime inspiration for that spoof. This futuristic world, a domed city, looks like it was shot in a mall. A nice mall at that, but you get the idea. Everyone wears pastel colors because God bless, everyone is happy. The women refuse to wear bras (so there's that), instead opting for loose, almost sheer quasi-dresses. The effects too are horrifically dated, both obvious miniatures and more obvious green screen shots. Considering all these things, there is a certain charm in small doses, but combine them all together and you've got quite a lot of 1970's science fiction cheese. At times, it reminded me of the classic Soylent Green, but the payoff there was far better than it was here.

And that's what my disappointment comes down to. 'Logan' has a ton of potential and delivers on it at certain points but ultimately comes up short. It's played straight but too often comes through like a spoof. Roscoe Lee Browne providing his voice for a ridiculous-looking killer robot? Peter Ustinov as the oldest man alive, a crazy cat man at that? Shouldn't someone be controlling the questioning? Just a computer is in charge of this last beacon of hope for mankind? There are simply too many unanswered questions and predicaments that ultimately did the movie in for me. A disappointing rating because I definitely wanted to like this one more.

Logan's Run (1976): **/****

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