About fifteen years ago, I saw a film on VHS called Logan’s Run. It was exciting science-fiction, compelling and visually dynamic. Fifteen-year-old me loved this movie. A couple of days ago, I saw the same film on Blu-Ray. And I kind of hated it.
As I re-watched the film, I just sat there, stunned. I couldn’t believe this was the same film I saw all those years ago. Having completely built this up in my mind, I was so excited to revisit this post-apocalyptic world. I mean, Logan’s Run is a 70’s classic. Everybody is familiar with the story of Logan 5, a Sandman (the hunter) turned Runner (the hunted) in a futuristic domed world where nobody is allowed to live past the age of 30. But for some reason, it just doesn’t hold up. Why?
For starters, this is a really ugly movie. Logan’s Run wasn’t just released in the 70’s, it looks like it took place there as well. It’s supposed to be the future, and yet everything about the film feels as if it would have been current at the time of release. The clothes, the hair, and every visual cue in the film just screams seventies. I suppose that this isn’t necessarily a valid critique as it is a seventies film, but for some reason, it proves distracting.
However, being shot in the seventies is no excuse for their horrible attempts at action sequences. This film contains some of the most awkwardly staged shootouts I have ever seen. The characters just stand in one place while everything around them briefly catches fire. It’s uncomfortable to witness. Which brings me to the acting. I couldn’t believe how bad everybody was in this film. Michael York is a highly regarded actor, but I never once believed his performance in this situation. Everything about his portrayal of Logan felt desperate and uneven. He was the best in the group, however. Almost everybody felt lifeless, as if they were just going through the motions. This was a huge movie when it was released. I really expected more enthusiasm from the performers. I guess they sensed the biggest problem with the film. Simply put, the story just isn’t that good.
Set in 2274, Logan finds himself in his predicament by happenstance. He just happens to find a clue, which inadvertantly sets him up for a secret computerized assignment to run. As the story progresses, he does learn more and more about the truth and deception occuring in their world, but his way of coming to these truths feel forced. Having teamed up with another runner, Jessica 6, they find themselves in what essentially boils down to “The Fugitive” in the future. There’s a simplicity to the story that clashes with the complexity of their world. The deeper they get, the richer the world seems. But the story of fugitives on the run get in the way of some potentially intriguing concepts. This is definitely a movie with big ideas. I just wish they could have given these ideas some depth.
But as I said, fifteen-year-old me was much more forgiving. Maybe I just hadn’t been exposed to some of the really great science-fiction out there and didn’t know what I was missing. Or maybe I just liked it because I thought I was supposed to. Either way, I find myself very disappointed with the film upon it’s current release. In terms of the Blu-Ray itself, the picture looks fantastic. I remember the scratches all over my VHS copy, and the image now is nearly flawless. The details really shine, but so do the flaws in the production design. There was so much source material, it’s a shame they designed such an ugly world. To their credit, this is the first film to use laser holography, winning them a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Beyond that effect however, I’m not impressed.
The Blu-Ray contains the original theatrical trailer, as well as a commentary track by Michael York, the director and the cosume designer. More interesting is the inclusion of a”vintage featurette,” a behind-the-scenes documentary shot at the time much like what we get on all of our movies today. I found it fascinating to see everybody making the film at the time it was being filmed, and not a modern look-back at the production. Running just short of 10 minutes, it’s a small segment, but a lot of fun.
Overall, I can’t recommend this Blu-Ray. While the film has somehow achieved classic status, it just doesn’t feel earned. There is a potentially great story in their somewhere, but this isn’t it. Usually, I grow to appreciate films over time, but somehow this worked the other way around. It makes me wonder what other movies I loved at a younger age that I would end up disliking today. Hopefully, that list begins and ends here.
Everyone who knows me is aware that I love science-fiction. I always have, and I always will. I guess I was just more forgiving fifteen years ago.