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Logan's Run (DVD, 2007)
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Logan's Run: Not in the best of shape.
Mar 26, 2008 (Updated Dec 9, 2008)
Review by reelponderings
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Very intriguing ideas, memorable visuals, definitely a cult classic.
Cons:Extremely dated, mostly flat performances, unintentionally funny.
The Bottom Line: Logan's Run is a film that has not aged well, but it is a cult classic that works unintentionally humorous wonders for groups.
I have a fondness and respect for classic films. By classic, I'm talking the likes of Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Ben-Hur, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Dr. Zhivago. The word "classic" also applies to the realm of science fiction. Flicks such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Blade Runner, the original Star Wars films, Alien and Aliens, the first two Terminator movies, and E.T. are all classics in every sense of the word. Then you have the cult classics: films that either bombed at the box office but garnered a considerable following amongst home video audiences (The Thing, Labyrinth, Donnie Darko and the aforementioned Blade Runner), were so bad (deliberately or not) they were good (Plan 9 from Outer Space, Re-Animator, Big Trouble in Little China, Trancers, Return of the Living Dead), or they were just...too different (Eraser Head, Repo Man, Radioactive Dreams, Brazil).
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Director Michael Anderson's 1976 film, Logan's Run, is what may safely be called a sci-fi cult classic. It was revolutionary at the time it came out, due in part to its special effects, which is always a plus for science fiction. As time went on, however, audiences referred to it in an increasingly tongue-in-cheek manner. This was primarily due to the fact that its less than stellar aging with the times had made it a ripe target for those who found humor in the realm of the unintentional.
Plot: In the 23rd century (2274, to be exact), humanity as we know it lives in a domed city. Here, the term "If it feels good, do it" is the rule of the day. Promiscuous sex with multiple partners? No problem! Cosmetic surgery on a whim? No problem! Endless shopping sprees? No problem! Anything and everything goes...until you turn 30, that is. Every member of society has a life crystal implanted in their left hand. Once one turns 30, the crystal flashes from red to black repeatedly, and then it's time to go on Carousel: a machine that sends you off to be "renewed", a process that supposedly allows you to be reborn or rewarded with a new life. In actuality, those who are "renewed" on Carousel are merely blown up as they ascend into the air, but that does not stop the crowds from going wild. There are some people who do not like this idea, however. They would rather stay alive, so they run when their time comes. That's where the Sandmen come in. Their job is to hunt the Runners and kill them, thus restoring order.
Logan 5 (Michael York-Cabaret, the Austin Powers films) is one such man, and his latest kill has brought about something odd. Namely, one of the items of the deceased is thought to be the key to Sanctuary, the reputed hideout for Runners who have made it past the Sandmen. Since Logan was the one who found the item, he is given the task of confirming Sanctuary's existence, accomplished by being sent undercover as a Runner, in turn accomplished by having his life crystal pushed forward four years. He has no choice but to run, as he is now 30 years old. The gravity of his situation helps him to gain an ally in Jessica (Jenny Agutter-The Railway Children, An American Werewolf in London), a runner whom he had met earlier and developed an attraction to. Together, the two are pursued by the Sandmen, led by Francis (Richard Jordan-Romero, Gettysburg), Logan's ambitious former partner. Will Logan and Jessica make it to Sanctuary, or will this race be over before it has even begun?
Review: The premise of this movie alone is very interesting. What would it be like to live in a world where you could do virtually anything you wanted, knowing that you had to give it up at the age of 30? Would you surrender and allow yourself to be "renewed", or would you try to fight the system when your time came? Unfortunately, the execution of the plot itself is done in a manner that is rather clunky, thus resulting in moments of frustration and unintentional humor. Since this was made in the '70s, there was an emphasis on the the dangers of a collective society, as well as a yearning to return the world to the simpler ways of nature. For the record, this approach was done far better in Silent Running and Soylent Green. Both films are certainly dated, as is Logan's Run, but whereas Run's strength comes from its eye candy visuals, Silent Running and Soylent Green both compensated for their lack of visual "oomph" with an ingredient far more vital: a human-driven story.
If Logan's Run had only had a heart, it may have been much better. Instead we get performances as mundane as the society portrayed within the film. I know that the actors were portraying shallow characters, but there was just nothing to grasp onto, in terms of character. When one is unable to care about the protagonists, it is never a good sign for the movie. It's sad, because I have seen all three of the lead actors deliver exceptional work in other movies, and to see them wasted here is a disappointment. Some of the performances were supposed to be deep or meaningful, but they come across as rather lifeless instead (Farah Fawcett as a blond and buxom secretary? How stereotypical can you get? Granted, she's easy on the eyes, but come on! Give us a performance!). Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the times. Oh, well.
One of the greatest problems of the film is that it does not age well at all. According to this movie, everyone in the future will dress like extras at a disco concert or an old Star Trek episode (You know the ones where "alien" life was depicted as a group of people wearing frilly outfits? That's the fashion we have to look forward to, people!). Oh, and all medical care will be provided by Liberace. Seriously! Every time you go under the knife (or in this case, lasers), the operation will be presided over by the bejeweled King of Kitsch...or one of his long distant cousins, at least.
So we've established that the film is a visual culture shock waiting to happen, but what about the intellectual aspect? Is there any hope with that being relevant for the times? Sadly, no. The way society is portrayed in the movie opens up a whole slew of plot holes: If everyone is a youthful adult living in leisure, how are the intricate machines of this city maintained? If everyone except the Sandmen and street cleaners is living in party city, there is no way this society could hold out for as long as it supposedly has. And what happens on the occasion that a Sandman is killed in the line of duty? Does the Runner take his gun and run, thus arming themselves with firepower equal to the ones hunting them? The closest we get to this is when one of the Sandmen mentions that he was mauled by a group of feral children, but that's it. Yes, this is just a movie, but it is never a good thing when a movie has more questions than answers.
Even though it is clearly dated, Logan's Run is a film that has some truly memorable images. There is a psychedelic beauty in select parts of the movie that really sticks out: the Carousel scene is one, as is Logan's interrogation scene towards the end, in which several holographic faces of Michael York are shown answering the computer's questions. Even the frozen lair of the cybernetic Box (Roscoe Lee Brown) has an eerie charm to it, with frozen animals and people scattered throughout the cavernous place. The part that stuck out to me the most was when Logan and Jessica make it outside the city and they find a ruined library, inhabited by one old man (Peter Ustinov, the only memorable actor in the movie) and hundreds of cats. This scene alone had a distinct Twilight Zone feel to it. If there had only been substance throughout the rest of the movie working with the visuals, this may have been a better film. As it is, these distinct images are ultimately eye candy; memorable eye candy, but eye candy, nonetheless.
Unless you grew up watching it, or you first saw it in the theaters in 1976, Logan's Run is not a good movie by today's standards. In light of the times, its depiction of the future has lost almost any relevance it may have had upon the movie's release. If you look at films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still or Blade Runner, you can actually apply what you see there to what is going on in the world today, in spite of their aging. It's not so with Logan's Run. On the other hand, it makes for great group viewing, in that there are parts of the film that just invite heckling on the scale of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the kind of heckling that may only be done with multiple people present. You should also give this movie a spin if you're about to turn 30. That way, if anyone comes up to you and calls you "Runner", you'll know what they are talking about, and that you should indeed run! As an unintentionally humorous cult classic, Logan's Run succeeds. On a final note, there is little in the way of violence or profanity, but there is quite a bit of nudity involved, which is rather surprising for a PG rated film. So parents, you all may want to hold off on letting your kids watch it until they're at least JR. High age, or you may want to watch it alone first and then be ready to fast-forward when the time comes.
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