Movie: "Soylent Green"
Genre: Action / Adventure
Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Writing credits: Stanley Greenberg
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Plot: Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) is a cop in a future Manhattan devastated by a world population explosion. Environmental collapse and over population have made whole foods scarce and wildly expensive. The vast majority of people survive on processed Red and Yellow food wafer made by the Soylent corporation (Soy: soybeans, Lent: Lentils). The new product line, Soylent Green, made from algae, is more nutritious and palatable, but it’s in short supply, leading to riots. Heston is investigating the murder of a Soylent executive (Joseph Cotton). With the help of his researcher Sol (Edward G. Robinson), Thorn uncovers a conspiracy and cover-up. The executive was assassinated because he new the terrible secret behind Soylent Green. Son Thorn is taken off the case and targeted for death himself, but he continues to pursue the truth, which in the film’s final, classic moments he learns and tries to reveal.
Review: Based loosely on Harry Harrison’s novella “Make Room, Make Room” this is the rare sci-fi film that is better than the book it’s based on. It follows the original narratives concerns with overpopulation and environmental degradation and pursues them to a dark, yet logical conclusion. Made in 1973, its prediction of a year round heat wave caused by pollution seems eerily prescient, and the grotesque portrayal of human overcrowding is as unsettling today as when it was filmed. There’s an image late on the film or a food riot, where gigantic riot control vehicles that look like heavy earth moving equipment scoop people up in vast shovels that is particularly haunting.
‘Soylent Green’ is also notable in that it was the great Edward G. Robinson’s last film. He was dying of cancer when he made it, and in fact passed away just nine days after filming was completed. His character in the film allows himself to be euthanized and his compelling death scene had to have been informed by the actors’ own mortality.
Plus, for video game fans, “Computer Space” the very first video arcade game ever made, makes a cameo appearance, so there’s something for everyone.
Science Fiction, when well rendered, is a powerful medium for social commentary. While the special effects, costuming and pacing of ‘Soylent Green’ may seem quaint to today’s jaded audience, it’s very rare these days that a sci-fi film reaches right for the heart and gut the way this one does. I’ve included no spoilers in this review on the off chance that some among you reading it may not know the films ending. If not, by all means, rent it right away. It’s so heavily woven into pop culture at this point it’s only a matter of time before you lose the chance to be surprised by it, but when it came out, it was the ‘Sixth Sense’ of it’s day. Even if you know where it’s going, it’s still a damn fine film.
In most of Heston’s recent eulogies, they justifiably hark back to his epics. Heston was Moses and Ben Hur, and those roles cast a long shadow. But when I was a kid, Heston was the go to guy for disturbing sociological science fiction. His straightforward totally un-ironic acting style was pitch perfect for these movies. He was the ideal man of the old world being forced to confront where the history men like him had forged was taking us. He was an action hero whose performance resonated long after the film was over.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
Follow us on:
Want Your Ad Here?
Send us an email!