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This review originally appeared in issue 10 of THE CINEMA LASER.

RUNAWAY

After seeing Columbia/TriStar's Letterboxed edition of RUNAWAY ($35), I couldn't help but wonder what kind of wonderful film JURASSIC PARK could have been if Michael Crichton had directed it. Crichton is a much underrated director who isn't afraid of taking a darker view, as his film's WESTWORLD and COMA will attest. If Crichton had directed JURASSIC PARK we would have had a true science fiction masterpiece, instead of insipid Spielberg slop.

RUNAWAY is very much like Crichton's WESTWORLD insomuch as is sees the menace in man's almost total subservience to technology. Set in the not to distant future, RUNAWAY is the tale of a police officer and his new partner whose sole job it is to deal with runaway robots. In most cases, the robots are nothing more than malfunctioning domestic and industrial equipment that simply needs to be switched off. Unfortunately, into the picture comes a psychotic genius whose computer chips can set robots off on homicidal rampages. The premise is simplistic, but it is Crichton's cynical execution that allows this film rise up over standard sci-fi fare. RUNAWAY, like most eighties movies, has a cast that is comprised of familiar faces- Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Kirstie Alley and Gene Simmons star. Selleck is a really likable actor and he's good in this film; it's too bad he can't seem to pick the kind of projects that might turn him into a true film star. As for rock star Gene Simmons, he acquits himself quite well in the role of villain- he should have made more films. Kirstie Alley shows up late in the film and exits quickly- too bad this film catches her at the height of her sex appeal. Rhodes was Hollywood's version of "the flavor of the month" showed up in a number of places for a brief time- then vanished.

Columbia/TriStar have given RUNAWAY an excellent Letterboxed transfer. The Panavision framing is almost fully restored and is essential for appreciating this film. Watching RUNAWAY pan and scan will greatly reduce ones liking of this film. The Letterboxed image is reasonably sharp and the colors are strong. The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack has a standard mid-eighties mix, and while good, one find that it is Jerry Goldsmith's high tech score that seems to derive most of the benefits from the Dolby encoding. The Sony (DADC) pressing had a noticeable number of speckles.

 
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Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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