“Its people! Soylent Green is people!”
If any movie is known for a single quote above all else, it’s Soylent Green. For this reason, I think, many people haven’t seen Soylent Green. What’s the point of seeing a movie if you already know what the twist is? Fortunately, those people are wrong. Soylent Green has much more to offer than what its famous titular quote would otherwise suggest. This is a dark movie, impactful. Perhaps more so today than when it was made. It depicts a broken-down society, plagued by overpopulation, climate change, urban crowding, and extreme class stratification. All of this results in millions of urbanites dredging through the streets like nomads. No food. No work. No point in living. Meanwhile, the rich elite live in their plush penthouses above, awash in luxury, technology, and personal servants for all their needs. The source of their riches? Gigantic corporations that monopolize consumables, including food. Sound familiar?
Story: Detective Thorn is investigating a robbery and murder of a board member for the Soylent Corporation. The Soylent Corporation is responsible for producing food for millions of starving New Yorkers. Their newest product, Soylent Green has just been introduced. Thorn’s partner, Sol Roth, gets the impression that something isn’t right. The facts don’t add up, and the government is pushing Thorn to close the case. Thorn doesn’t stop, and now, someone is after him. With his partner’s personal safety at risk, Sol takes matters into his own hands, making the ultimate sacrafice in order to give Thorn the evidence he needs to finish his investigation… Good (22/25)
Acting: Charleton Heston is the focus of the movie as Detective Thorn, and delivers with his strong presence and emotional distress. Perhaps a little aloof at times, Thorn is otherwise a likable character. However, veteran actor Edward G. Robinson steals the show. He makes Sol Roth an intelligent, powerful, and determined character, whose reminiscences help to provide the audience with something to connect to. Unfortunately this was the last film for Robinson, and as such his final scene in the movie seems quite fitting. The rest of the cast is rather good, if generic. Good (21/25)
Direction: Richard Fleisher does a commendable job adding grit and harshness to the movie. Everything is very tactile and the imagery is haunting, but at the expense of realism. Everything is blunt, brash, and obvious, to-the-point. Fleisher also fails to capture the characters properly. They are just people doing a job. No more, no less. Nonetheless, Fleisher makes the beginning and end of the movie very memorable. This movie has perhaps one of the best intros of all time and the ending is perfectly done, demonstrating a cohesiveness that the rest of the film lacked. Okay (16/25)
Special Effects/X-Factor: Yeah, the special effects are not really that special. In fact, they are downright laughable at times. But that is okay, they’re not meant to add anything. The film is enjoyable for its story and brashness. If anything, the poor production qualities add to the overall feeling of distress. That is really what this movie is about; making the audience uncomfortable such that they notice that the society depicted in this film is actually not that different from real life. Today this is even more disturbing than when this film was released. Good (21/25)
The Verdict: (80/100) = B- (Average)
- The Good: Edward G. Robinson is a knockout in his final role, Charleton Heston is enjoyable to watch, and the gritty, often brash story line is hauntingly realistic.
- The Bad: The production values are low, and the characters don’t really seem like real people.
Summary: Still powerful even though it has lost its bite.
My previous review: Rated: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
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