Monday, August 15, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #93: "THX 1138" (1971)

Movie Stats:
Released 1971 (USA)
American, in English
Director - George Lucas
Stars - Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance

Plot Summary:
In a dystopian future where individuality, free thought, and love have been abolished, and the population is controlled with drugs, THX 1138 (Duvall) begins to feel strange and soon finds himself an unwilling rebel. Pleasance co-stars as SEN 5241.

Violence; minor gore; sexy times; female nudity (breasts and butt only); drug use.

Bad Stuff:
It’s very weird.

I guess I need to stop reading the blurb on the DVD case. This one waxed poetic about “THX 1138” being a great romantic movie. I have to admit I was skeptical because this is George Lucas we’re talking about, a man who I think couldn’t recognize romance if his life depended on it. Even so, I was still disappointed when [SPOILER] THX’s roommate LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), having gone off the mind-numbing drugs of her own accord, selfishly replaced his drugs with a placebo without his knowledge/consent so he would feel what she felt, leading to their ultimate doom. I can’t say that I find that particularly romantic. [SPOILER] Honestly, I really disliked her character.

It’s dull.

Good Stuff:
Duvall and Pleasance were very good. It’s minor, but I loved the scene where THX 1138 asked LUH 3417 why she did what she did and his voice was so soft and small as he said, “I was happy.”

Just like “Alphaville,” I liked the ideas of it while disliking the execution. There was quite a bit of clever stuff that I haven’t seen in other films about the future. My favorite was the “religion booth” with it’s recording that’s set to say encouraging things at intervals, no matter what the human inside is saying. I thought that was funny. I also liked the concept of human worth, that they were only kept alive so long as they didn’t exceed the cost of creating them.

I liked the uncertain ending, which also had an element of surprise.

The Verdict:
I feel distinctly uncharmed by this film. When it first started, I thought to myself, “Well, this is all kind of strange, but I think I may end up liking it more than I expected.” And then it dragged on … and on … and on. By the end of the weird prison sequence (WTF was up with that little person?), I was so turned off that I just didn’t care anymore. Even the action-packed final segment (which, despite all the action, somehow managed to be boring) did nothing for me. What happened to LUH? Don’t care. What are THX’s and SEN’s respective fates? Not my concern. It’s just a big fat ball of “meh.”

I give it 2.5 stars.


Patricia said...

Roger Ebert said he most dreaded writing reviews for really mediocre movies, because there's just nothing to say. According to him the good ones write themselves and the bad ones are really fun because there's just so much to say.

I haven't seen this movie, nor can I say I ever will, but I sure enjoyed reading your review.

balyien said...

I agree with Ebert. I had a difficult time writing this review because I really had to think about what "good" I found in it. Like, I didn't hate it but there wasn't a lot that stood out for me to praise. Usually I write a full review right after I finish a film, so I don't forget anything, but it took me 2 days to complete this one.