THX 1138: Director's Cut
Director: George Lucas
Year: 1971/2004
TRT: 1:28

Maybe pappa-boy Lucas should take a stroll down memory lane and take some notes from his first movie that bashes nouveau-theology and commercialism. 35 years later, his Jedi philosophies are spouted by a muppet and toy tie-ins at the local burger joint don't give the man much street cred. Plus he still can't write a screenplay worth a shit. But give the man respect for what he's been absolutely consistent with: visually intriguing films with great audio. But let's stick to the film at hand.

The Brave New World we're presented with here has all the tell-tale signs of the Orwellian nightmare. Assimilation of the human culture through bland apparel and shaved heads, dilution of emotion through chemical therapy, robotic police as soldiers of the all-knowing government, and the most banal, non-confrontational warping of religion and psychiatry neatly mashed into phonebooth confessionals. Problem for THX 1138 is, he's not feeling too good of late. And he's having indescribable feelings for his roommate, which is a major no-no in this sunless, emotion-free society. Too bad it's all underground, literally, so nobody can grow some good ganj and enlighten the masses, eh? Poor bastards. But Lucas takes us on a slightly grimmer bent, involving twisted holographic porn, nuclear disaster with any misstep, and a creepy, queer stalker-type in the form of Donald Pleasence.

There's actually some pretty cool concepts here as far as the story is concerned, but unfortunately they only amount to that. Robert Duvall is good as the title character, and Pleasence turns in a great (though slightly disturbing) role as well. Great sound work by Walter Murch. The fact that he's also co-writer on this should give you an inkling towards the emphasis on the technical end of things here. Which brings me to the last point: the Director's Cut. Lucas has the best film & sound technology behind him, so it's no wonder after cleaning up the original trilogy of Star Wars films that he'd dress this little sci-fi piece up as well. And to good credit, I have to say. It's been awhile since I saw the original, but the visual effects added was done subtle-like with no huge spaceship explosions in the background to make it more "visually interesting." The starkness of the majority of this film, along with the framing of many shots, is captivating enough. Though rather bland dialogue-wise (which was fairly intended), this isn't a bad film to check out if your into that whole sci-fi brevity thing.

Great Scenes: Great use of present-day environments (circa 1970) to shoot a bland, futuristic society. But I have to say the uranium tube-like thing getting dropped and melting through whatever it touches was nicely done and integrated into the original film.

DVD Notes: With Lucas's boys going in to dress up some effects, the transfer of this is pretty fantastic considering when it was shot. And then there's the THX sound quality. You know, indicated by that little animation that comes up before a film and kicks your aural asses? For those not in the industry, just look above at the title of the film. Like I said, Lucas is great at the technical aspects and setting new standards, let's hope he sticks with that in his golden years to go out on a high note.