Review: THX 1138 (RATING 5/10)16 March, 2009
Let me preface this by saying that only its reputation allowed me to give this film a higher rating than Next. [EDIT: After actually finishing this review, I have decided to take away that extra point.] I watched them one day after the other, both on Netflix Instant Viewing (which is, by the way, amazing), and had roughly the same opinion of each’s quality. Which I feel are not the opinions I should have.
I think George Lucas has some problems that he has to deal with, in terms of his filmmaking. The first, which is as relevant to THX 1138 as it is to the original Star Wars is, well, STOP CHANGING THINGS ONCE YOU’VE MADE THEM!!! NO ONE CARES WHETHER THE GRAPHICS ARE QUITE AS REALISTIC AS THEY COULD BE. NO CGI IN MOVIES MADE IN THE 70S! SERIOUSLY! I didn’t realise when I started watching this that it had been George Lucasized. That is to say, when it was rereleased, he changed it both (I assume) content-wise (which is acceptable, in terms of editing scenes, adding in new ones, etc—as long as you make the original still available) but also by taking out what I presume were fairly low-budget special effects, and replacing them with CGI. Which really stands out, and does NOT help the movie in any way, shape or form. It even distracts from it, because you look at the new effects, realise that they’re new, and start thinking about that rather than what is going on in the story.
What is going on in the story. Ah, yes. Well, there, George, you have your second problem. You managed to surpass it with Star Wars, but ultimately you failed with this (a growth curve, perhaps, since this was made in your earlier days). And yes, this is apparently now an open letter to George Lucas. You are really good at creating worlds. You think of lots of cool things, and you make them fit together really nicely, and they seem like they have backstory. But then, when it comes to writing, you know, plots, those little tiny insignificant parts of films, you break down. Let’s see… Well, everyone is surpressed by drugs in this society. So let’s have… ummm… a romance! Yes, that’s it! A romance! Where they don’t take drugs and realise their feelings for each other! And then, well, let’s have them get caught! Haha! That will show the Man! And then… uh… I guess they’ll escape? But no, let’s just forget about the woman and focus on the man. Where did she go? Well, I guess she must have… died. Somewhere. And let’s have him escape with a crazy guy! Who is annoying and then goes somewhere else, while the man escapes into the wild. Which will surely kill him. But we don’t have to think about that part, because the movie will end right when he gets out. And done.
Because really, nothing happens in this movie. I mean, things happen, but not within people. Movies are, for the most part, supposed to be about character development. But not once in this movie do we ever get a sense of why someone is doing what they’re doing. Maybe with the crazy guy. But he’s crazy, so he doesn’t count. Neither of the main characters (one of whom, as I mentioned, disappears about 1/3 of the way into the movie) ever gives reasoning, and we never get a sense of how they actually feel. For a movie that’s about people rebelling against the non-feeling mainstream (because they all take sedatives, other pills), they don’t really feel at all. Or, rather, they feel for no reason, which again is not really a good rebellion. They just suddenyl have emotions, that aren’t necessarily related to things around them, or anything at all.
I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time now. I felt that it was part of my cinematic education. But, just like, say, a bad math class, it was a part of my education that I should have enjoyed, but didn’t. It is, though, supposedly one of the films you should see. So, don’t take my word for it, see it yourself! (Thank you, Levar Burton.)