THX-1138 (Director’s Cut)
Stop me if I’ve used this one before…a movie (or book, or show…) draws me in with its initial charm and mystery, only to feel like an also-ran by the end. It’s happened more times than I can count, and it’s déjà vu all over again with George Lucas’ THX-1138. It’s a film with a pretty challenging first half, and few guideposts to help the viewer through meaningless dialogue, quick cuts, and emotionless characters. It might not be effective storytelling, necessarily, but it is certainly different. Unfortunately, as the movie stops challenging it falls into all-too familiar patterns – a plot that’s instantly obvious and all the scenes that come bundled with it.
Before its lame climax, though, THX-1138 has a few things to show you. I saw the Director’s Cut, so unfortunately there was some CGI mixed in with the original visuals, but the original visuals as far as I could tell were quite nice. The visual highlight is the tall enforcer robots that recall Robert Patrick in his cop uniform, cutting an imposing presence through the bleak backgrounds. There is one scene in particular where the protagonist and his captors engage in an odd dance amidst nothingness that is probably the signature moment of the film, and queerly effective. Finally, while the generalities of the culture Lucas shows us are well-worn, some of the specifics seemed pretty creative. It’s a nice extrapolation of U.S. culture, with its workaholic tendencies and over-reliance on pharmaceuticals.
THX-1138 was George Lucas’ first film, and while it is far from his worst, it’s not on the level of Star Wars or American Graffiti. Moments of creativity in the visuals and storytelling elevate it to slightly above average, but all in all it’s a film you could probably skip.