(Review originally written at 21 July 2008)

"Soylent Green" is science-fiction but it's the more realistic type of science-fiction. So it's a movie set on Earth, rather than in space and it's set in the future but not a further of high tech gadgets but a future in which the whole world has basically gone to hell.

"Soylent Green" might very well feature one of the most depressing portrayals of the near future. Earth is being overpopulated and there is a serious food shortage. On top of the the greenhouse effect has kicked in and the worlds temperature has risen some degrees. Electricity and running water are rare, so in other words, there's a shortage in basically everything we are so accustomed to. Life goes on but just not as it used to.

"Soylent Green" is not just a science-fiction movie but perhaps even more a cop movie, in which New York cop Robert Thorn, played by Charlton Heston, starts to investigate a murder on an corporate official of the Soylent company, the company that provides the world with it's mysterious new green food.

As for the 'big twist' of the movie, without spoiling anything...The entire movie builds up to it and it becomes apparent from basically the first minute that this movie is going to have a twist in its story. Personally, the wasn't the powerful or shocking twist I had hoped for. Perhaps in a subconscious way it even was a bit predictable. Even though the twist is not weak and is definitely still good enough, it's just not the stuff featured in an early M. Night Shyamalan, to give an example.

This movie made me realize that Charlton Heston was actually one of the earliest kings of science-fiction. In the late '60's and '70's science-fiction really wasn't a popular much watched genre. It certainly always wasn't the most respected genre to star in as an actor. Nevertheless Charlton Heston did this, despite getting more than enough movie offers to star in different movies, in more popular and higher respected genres. I guess he must had had some love for the genre, or perhaps it was because of the success and experience of working on "Planet of the Apes". He starred in some real great and significant genre movies in the '60's and '70's, of which this movie is also really one of them.

Even though this movie is not as well known- it still can be called the "Blade Runner" of the '70's. It's clever and realistic enough and not afraid to show a depressing near future, with rotten and corrupt characters in it. I's a movie that's great in its details and little things, rather than really with its main plot-line or such.

Of course the movie is also made great by it's performances. Charlton Heston got really great cast in his role and he's obviously in his element. It was also really great to see Edward G. Robinson in this. He was one of the greatest actors of the '40's and '30's, mostly playing tough gangster roles. He had to star in lots of crap after that in order to remain active in the business but it was great that he could end his career with a movie such as this one. He died days after he finished shooting on this movie. He was already seriously ill at the time of production and it was apparent that he had not long to life. Having never received even an Academy Award or even nomination for any of his great roles, he received posthumously an honorary award for his entire career in 1973. This movie was a role worthy last role for him and the movie features some great sequences, involving his character.

Despite not being a special effects laden science-fiction movie, it's still a great looking one, with its costume design, sets and overall atmosphere. Some of the things still look futuristic, while others look as time hadn't stopped since the '70's. So it's an overall really great and original look that the movie has over it. It's a futuristic movie with an '70's atmosphere over it, what is there not to like?

Great '70's science-fiction!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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