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Logan's Run

(1975) ** 1/2 Pg
118 min. United Artists Films. Director: Michael Anderson. Cast: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett.

/content/films/3641/1.jpgEven in its day, Logan's Run was camp, perhaps more "sci fi" than science fiction, for those who make a distinction. Now it's hopelessly dated. But somewhere between its 1976 release and the persistent post-milennial rumblings of a remake (once to be helmed by Bryan Singer), Logan's Run inevitably became a nostalgia piece with just enough heft for its viewers to take it a little too seriously and plenty of corn to ensure it wouldn't be forgotten. Based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Michael Anderson's film posits a future world (Year of the City 2274, whatever that means) in which a domed city theoretically protects "survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution" from the wilds without. But who will protect them from the threats of the city, which include compulsory participation—at age thirty—in a deadly, ritualistic test of skill called Carrousel that no one has yet survived.

Due to this practice, the city is a young and sexy place, where hedonism distracts from the inevitable. All of the people's needs are catered to by computerized servo-mechanisms, limiting the need for thought. Part of maintaining the glooming peace is the job of the Sandmen, who hunt down any thirty-year-olds who dare to attempt escape. Logan 5 (Michael York) and Francis 7 (Richard Jordan) are two such Sandmen, happily going about their business until the former becomes conscious of the time ticking away on his Lifeclock. The moralistic religious overtones of Carrousel (obey and live on, disobey and burn) have worked to keep Logan in line along with all the rest, but circumstances conspire to set Logan to asking questions. Soon, he's crossing lines: first by chatting up a potential sex partner (Jenny Agutter's Jessica 6) instead of simply screwing her, and then a line by helping a Runner to affect an escape.

Eventually, Logan and Jessica find out what's outside the city. Spoiler alert: it includes Peter Ustinov as an Old Man who effortlessly walks off with the picture. Did I mention Farrah Fawcett as a wacky cosmetic surgery assistant and Roscoe Lee Browne as a cyborg named "Box"? Yeah, Logan's Run is pretty weird, and it plays a bit like the unholy offspring of The Twilight Zone (novel co-author George Clayton Johnson wrote several episodes), Star Trek (cheesy costumes! cheesy fighting!) and Planet of the Apes (a troubling society that's forgotten its history). The score by the great Jerry Goldsmith is dated, and the effects fare worse, though they were good enough at the time to score a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Ultimately, despite its grabber of a premise, Logan's Run flaunts poorly developed plot specifics; as such, it's terminally silly. Nevertheless, as a camp curio, it still has an odd but undeniable staying power.

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Aspect ratios: 2.4:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Street date: 11/10/2009

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Ironically, Logan's Run's age does it in when it comes to a hi-def transfer. That's not to say that the transfer isn't technically proficient and true to its source material (it is on both counts), but the source is somewhat soft, which robs it of depth. Color appears accurate, and despite the less-than-razor sharp impression, detail is perhaps too good, given how it reveals previously unnoticed limitations in the effects. Really, there's no reason to complain—it seems likely that this is as good as Logan's Run is ever going to look, short of some kind of film restoration (which is hardly imperative in this case). It has certainly never looked better on home video. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix may not be the most wisely balanced of its type, but it still represents an admirable effort in upgrading out-of-date source material.

The feature comes with a commentary by Michael York, Michael Anderson and Bill Thomas that's pretty cool as a collective retrospective on the film (though each participant was recorded separately and edited together).

The vintage featurette "A Look Into the 23rd Century" (9:18, SD) features behind-the-scenes footage and comments from York, Jenny Agutter, Anderson, and producer Saul David.

Last up is the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:56, SD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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