logans_runIf you ignore the really dated visual effects and focus on the plot, Logan’s Run is a very good movie. This film is widely considered a classic by most hardcore sci-fi movie geeks. Unfortunately, the success and influence of this film was quickly overshadowed only 1 year after its theatrical release by none other than Star Wars. If you have seen both films, its easy to see why Logan’s Run cannot stand a chance against George Lucas’ masterpiece. Even before Lucas updated the VFX of his original trilogy, the visual effects and spectacle that Star Wars offered still impressed audiences 15 years after its release. Logan’s Run, on the other hand, probably became painful to watch a few months after it got released. However, don’t let the shitty effects take away from your experience. Unlike Star Wars and like any good science fiction story, this film explores philosophical issues and makes a statement about the state of our society.

Logan’s Run is set in a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources is maintained by a simple rule: once you becomes 30 years of age, you are killed. The purpose of this rule is to prevent overpopulation, which, as you will see, is important considering the entire human population lives in a physically enclosed city that is cut off from the rest of the world. Of course, to lessen the psychological and emotional pain of being forced to die, society has inculcated the people to believe that by dying, you “renew” yourself. Our main character is a Sandman, which is basically a policeman and his job is find and kill Runners. Runners are those who refuse to die when their time comes.

The Sandman is played by Michael York, who is more familiar these days for voicing animated characters and playing Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers films. When we first meet York, he is a dutiful Sandman who faithfully carries out his task to hunt down Runners. However, he soon meets a Runner who convinces him to question everything he believes in. York gives a serviceable performance as the naive and loyal Sandman who’s beliefs are brought into doubt. Except for the Sandmen, all the characters in the film wear these colorful scanty togas that makes the whole society look like a hippie commune. Its worth mentioning that a very attractive and young Farrah Fawcett makes a brief appearance as a (what else?) sexy dumb blonde Runner. The only other actor of worthy note here is the great Peter Ustinov, who plays the Old Man. He is wonderful in the role as would be expected of anything from Ustinov.

Although I really enjoyed the story, Logan’s Run had one very major problem that it neither resolves nor even attempts to explain. We never figure out what the York character’s goals are. At times we are led to believe he is still loyal to his job to eradicate Runners, but at other times we see him switching sides and wanting to leave the society and become a Runner. The film does not adequately explain when and especially why York decides to question authority. It gives the audience conflicting messages and ends up distracting the viewer.

The set design of the film plays a huge role because its a futuristic science-fiction movie so much of the appeal is seeing how our world looks in the future. To put it simply, the enclosed city looks like a cross between Epcot Center and old-school Tomorrowland as imagined by a fried-out-of-his-fucking-mind hippie. Overall, I didn’t mind the look of the city precisely because it reminded me of Tomorrowland (before Disney erroneously decided to update its look with a Jules Verne theme). Apparently in the 70s, you couldn’t be futuristic unless you had glitter and a lot of shiny silver. However, if you find yourself severely disappointed by the city scenes, you’ll be rewarded later when our characters venture out into the outside world. Later in the film we are treated to a depiction of whats left of Washington D.C., which has been overtaken by wilderness. These are beautifully visualized scenes that make up for the lame-looking future city.

I’m not going to dwell on the visual effects other than to say they are HORRIBLE. To give you an idea of just how bad the VFX is, Logan’s Run’s VFX reminded me of the bad effects in the original Star Trek TV series, which was 10 years before the release of this film!! Say what you will of George Lucas’ abilities to make a decent movie, but if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think visual effects would be anywhere NEAR where they are today.

To sum things up, this is not a film I would recommend for mainstream tastes. This is purely for sci-fi fans and hardcore film snobs like myself. Despite all of its production shortcomings, Logan’s Run is a great story that explores issues of religion (atheism basically) and, in a strange and interesting way, democracy and the right to choose. As a sidenote, this film has been in the process of being remade for almost 10 years. The director Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2, Superman Returns) was heavily involved in remaking it and was very close to doing so, but production delays on Superman Returns forced him to drop out. Currently, it is being prepped again for a possible 2010 theatrical release.

 

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