Logan’s Run

A year before “Star Wars” came out, MGM delivered “Logan’s Run,” an expensive, futuristic saga based on William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s novel. Set in the 23rd Century, “Logan’s Run” was considered cutting edge for it’s time.


logansrunThe film was the first to utilize holographic images. Enormous sets were designed and built on the famous MGM lot in Culver City. These included a massive miniature city model that looked like the city of tomorrow in Disneyland’s “Carousel of Progress.” By today’s standards, most of these effects are pretty cheesy. The miniatures look like miniatures (did someone forget to slow down the camera to make the miniature water look bigger?), the visual effects are clumsy and apparent, and the matte paintings show their age.

It was a different time for movies in 1976, when audiences were a little more forgiving. “Star Wars” changed all of that, but for it’s time, “Logan’s Run” was considered hip. Despite it’s shortcomings, “Logan’s Run” is a lot of fun is a camp sort of way. Ignore the silly special effects and concentrate on the gorgeous scenery, which includes most of the young cast. The cast is young because the story deals with a futuristic society where the citizens are created in the lab, and must clock out when they reach the age of thirty. The populace has a time clock implanted in their left hand that blinks red when their time is up.

That’s when they have to head to the Carrousel and renew their lives. Built like a futuristic arena, the Carrousel raises the senior citizens into the air and then zaps them into oblivion. If a citizen refuses to check out when it’s their time, they’re tracked down by futuristic policeman known as Sandmen. Michael York stars as Logan, a dedicated Sandman who enjoys his elite job. His best friend is Francis (Richard Jordan), another Sandman who enjoys the hunt. Except for that Carrousel thing, the citizens lead a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle.

There’s no violence, and everyone is encouraged to enjoy what little time they have in the city. Some might say it’s paradise. Others, like young and beautiful Jessica (Jenny Agutter), believe that there is life outside the domed city. They call it sanctuary. Logan’s life changes when he reports in one day for work, and is assigned to infiltrate the rebels and find their sanctuary. To make his story more believable, his time clock is activated four years early. Now Logan has no choice but to find sanctuary. With Jessica in tow and Francis hot on their tail, Logan discovers that there is indeed life outside the domed city. Through a series of incredible escapes, Logan and Jessica find themselves in Washington D.C., which is now covered in vines.

There they meet an old man (scene stealer Peter Ustinov) who proves that there is life after thirty. Now all they have to do is convince the rest of the populace. “Logan’s Run” isn’t great entertainment, but it sure is engaging. Based on the amount of flesh and violence in the film, I would imagine that it would receive a PG-13 rating by today’s standards. There are more boobies in this film than in Congress, although there are plenty of people in Congress who should suit up for the Carrousel as we speak.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

The original negative is less than pristine, which makes for a less than stellar digital transfer. The transfer is dotted with the occasional compression artifact, and I did notice some strobing in a couple of scenes. Otherwise, the 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is rich in color and saturation, with appealing flesh tones and bold blacks. The colors are especially hot. Not the greatest print, but it does look considerably better than any I’ve seen on tape or television. The DVD has been enhanced at 16:9 for widescreen televisions.

HEARING: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

The new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is more expressive than some other newly re-mastered DVD’s I’ve heard. Jerry Goldsmith’s techno-synthesized score comes through with remarkable clarity, while the dialogue mix is superb. You won’t have to strain to hear each and every word. The stereo separation is okay, but doesn’t offer the same razor sharp distinction of other 5.1 tracks. The basses are exceptional, never too broad or distorted, while the high ends cut through the air. The pulsating score comes alive in the rear speakers, while the eerie undercurrent fills the room. The DVD also features a mono French language soundtrack.

ORAL: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

English and French language subtitles.

COORDINATION: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

The DVD features an alternate running audio commentary with director Michael Anderson, star Michael York and costume designer Bill Thomas. It’s everything you always wanted to know about Logan’s Run but were afraid to ask. At first, based on the stolid introductions, I was afraid this was going to be one of those affairs where someone interviewed the talent elsewhere and then added their comments to the disc. Even though Anderson, York and Thomas were taped separately, they actually watched the film as they spoke, giving their comments a feeling of attachment. Much of the information is useful, but some of it is laughable. It’s funny to hear Anderson proclaim that the wires holding the Carrousel victims were painted matte black and shot in a way that none of them were visible in the film. As I’m listening to this proclamation, all I can see are wires holding up the extras. I never noticed them before. Maybe the digital transfer brings out the worst in special effects. Then there is York’s proclamation that he discovered Farrah Fawcett-Majors on a tennis court in Texas and convinced Anderson to use her. Finally, I had to laugh when Anderson went into length about how he ran into trouble with the studio over the amount of skin shown in the sex club scene. Anderson protests that you never see a full nude body in the scene, and yet while he’s talking, that’s all I’m seeing. Sure, the male and female extras had their lower frontal private parts taped over and then painted with flesh-colored make-up, but you get more than an eyeful during this scene. The trio also clue is in on some of the special effects procedures used to make the film, while Thomas vindicates his color scheme, which was totally lost on audiences upon the film’s release. Quite an enjoyable discussion. There’s also a promotional featurette that’s less behind-the-scenes as it is a lengthy trailer for the film. The original theatrical trailer is included, as is an eight-page booklet with fascinating information about the production of the film.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

“Logan’s Run” has an antiquated charm that is hard to resist.

VITALS:

$24.95/Rated PG/119 Min./Color/32 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#907029

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: LOGAN’S RUN

BIRTH DATE: 1976

HMO: MGM Home Entertainment



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