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Far deeper and intelligent than what first meets the eye
MartinHafer19 July 2006
This is a brilliant sci-fi movie that is very strange in how men and women both view the same film. I have talked to many people about the film and almost every guy loved it and said it was brilliant--while most women thought it was just disgusting and stupid! This is the only movie I know of that has such polarized views based on gender. Perhaps many women just have a lower tolerance for disgusting or depressing plots--but whatever the cause, I have always found this difference fascinating.

The film begins with a murder and a subsequent investigation headed by Charlton Heston. This is set in the near future and the head of the huge international Soylent Corporation has been assassinated. As the film unfolds, you quickly realize this is a terrible and highly inequitable future American society. The rich live in gorgeous apartments with security and all the pleasures money can buy(including "furniture"--a euphemism for paid mistresses that come along with the apartment). At the same time, the masses are dirt poor, unemployed and in many cases living in abandoned cars or apartment hallways. Overpopulation and smog have taken a severe toll and the future looks awful indeed!

Why the rich man died and the awful truth he could not live with I really should NOT discuss--it could ruin the film for you. However, the film has a great plot and acting and is super-exciting to watch. Plus, it features Edward G. Robinson in his final screen performance as the crusty sidekick to Heston. Though not for the easily depressed or squeamish, this is a great sci-fi film that is allegorical and profound.
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A Hopeless World
bkoganbing4 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The only other film besides Soylent Green that has such an air of hopelessness is On the Beach. Both films deal with the consequences for the species and the planet from man made cataclysms. On the Beach with nuclear war and Soylent Green with the environmental poisoning of the planet.

Maybe there's cause for some optimism because as of 2007 we haven't reached either of the worlds described in those films and we were supposed to by now. New York City still has about 8 million people not the 22 million by the turn of the millenia as described in Soylent Green. Environmentalists always hail this film as showing the consequence of global warming. For myself it also shows the Right to Life ethic run amuck. Obviously there's no family planning in this world either.

Charlton Heston is an NYPD detective who lives with room mate Edward G. Robinson who's old enough to remember the Earth before catastrophe struck. There's been a murder committed, Joseph Cotten an executive with the Soylent Corporation, a multi-national concern that has come up with a food product, some kind of wafer in many colors to feed the world's population. It's latest product is Soylent Green.

The investigation finds Charlton Heston getting his man, but also it leads to some horrifying truths about the Soylent Corporation and the future of mankind. As Heston shouts in the end that Soylent Green is made of people, that we've become a race of cannibals, the horrifying thing is that there is no alternative. We've exhausted the planet and we have to eat our dead to survive.

This was the farewell performance of Edward G. Robinson and in his memoirs Heston spoke movingly of Robinson even though they had differing political views. A few weeks after Robinson wrapped that final scene of his screen demise by consented euthanasia, he passed away in real life. Not many did, but Heston knew that Robinson was terminally ill and there was no acting involved in that final death scene between the two of them.

Though the timetable was off, it doesn't mean that the world envisioned by Soylent Green may not come to pass. Hopefully we'll have not just the intelligence, but the sense of shared responsibility to keep that from happening.
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needs more action
SnoopyStyle15 November 2014
It's the year 2022. Earth is polluted and overcrowded. NYC has a population of 40M. Nothing really works anymore and natural resources are scarce. Soylent Industries controls the food supply for half the world and soylent green is the newest form. Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) is a NYPD detective who lives with his elderly friend Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson). Thorn is given the murder case of the wealthy elite William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten) presumed to be a burglary. Simonson has a mysterious conversation with the burglar before he's killed. Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) is a concubine or "furniture" that comes with the apartment. Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors) is his bodyguard. Thorn suspects an assassination and then higher ups start interfering with his investigation.

There is an interesting concept here but it needs more action. All the ideas are well incorporated into the movie although the green haze is done badly. The movie needs to have faster pacing and some action would help. Heston is a solid lead but he's somewhat alone. Robinson still has great presence but the girl is just a pretty face. This is a movie where eating a simple meal is fascinating. The movie spends too much time immersing in this sci-fi world while the investigation moves at a snail's pace. The riot is big enough but the scoops are too silly. When the action does come, it's not the most exciting.
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A Sci-Fi Film that Has not Aged
claudio_carvalho9 October 2011
In 2022, Earth is overpopulated and totally polluted; the natural resources have exhaust and the nourishment of the population is supplied by the Soylent Industries, a food made by plankton from the oceans. In New York, when the Soylent's member of the board William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotton) is murdered apparently by a burglar at the Chelsea Towers West where he lives, the efficient Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the case with his partner Solomon "Sol" Roth (Edward G. Robinson).

Thorn comes to the fancy apartment and meets Simonson's bodyguard Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors) and the "furniture" (woman that is rented together with the flat) Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) and the detective concludes that the executive was not victim of burglary but executed. Further, he finds that the Governor Santini (Whit Bissell) and other powerful men want to disrupt and end his investigation. But Thorn continues his work and discovers that the oceans have exhausted and the bizarre and disturbing secret of the ingredient used to manufacture Soylent Green.

"Soylent Green" is one of the best sci-fi ever made and a film that has not aged. On the contrary, when I saw it in the movie theater in 1973, it was another good film with catastrophic view of the future. Along the years, I have seen this film on VHS at least four more times and every time that I see it, I find it better and better. In Brazil, this film has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray, only in the movie-theater in 1973 and on a rare VHS with the title "No Mundo de 2020" (translation: "In the World of 2020", despite the story takes place in 2022) and I have just bought the imported Blu-Ray and saw it again.

It is impressive how the writer Harry Harrison was capable to foresee the future in 1966 with pollution, overpopulation and menace of exhaustion of the natural resources and write his novel "Make Room! Make Room!". In those years, the concept of ecology did not exist, at least the same way in the present days. The grim view of the cannibalism to fee the population introduced by Stanley R. Greenberg in the screenplay fortunately has not been achieved yet.

"Soylent Green" is also the film number 101 in the career of the unforgettable actor Edward G. Robinson that was with cancer and almost deaf during the shooting and died two weeks after the conclusion of this film. The Blu-Ray has in the extras a tribute to this great actor. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "No Mundo de 2020" ("In the World of 2020")
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Eating Raoul
Prismark107 July 2017
Director Richard Fleischer could me some odd looking campy films and I am afraid the costumes in this Dystopian futuristic film makes you wonder why the male characters are dressed in such a foppish way.

Set in 2022, the planet is suffering from the greenhouse effect and global warming. There is overpopulation, homelessness and an increased divide between the rich and the underclass.

Pollution has meant food is in short supply and Soylent Industries makes from plankton called Soylent Green. Real food whether it is meat or vegetable is a rare luxury.

When an executive of Soylent Industries is brutally killed Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates. Thorn lives with an elderly scholar Sol Roth (Edward G Robinson) who tells Thorn about the old days and helps with his investigation.

Thorn enters a world of the rich with their fancy apartments, treacherous bodyguards and accompanying furniture who are young beautiful women who come with apartment.

Thorn soon finds out that the rich and powerful are trying to disrupt his investigation by applying pressure to his bosses. The murdered executive felt guilty about something and confessed to a preacher who himself has been executed. There is a secret about the food chain which Thorn is determined to find out.

Charlton Heston despite his increasing right wing views as he got older did make several films about an environmentally degraded world. The film has a famous reveal about what exactly is Soylent Green but it really does looked aged in parts, slow going and not very convincing despite its interesting premise of an environment destroyed by humans. The treatment of women as just playthings is despicable.

This was the last appearance of Edward G Robinson who died soon after the film was completed. The most emotional scene is regarding his euthanasia surrounded by images of fields, forests, mountains, animals, rivers, sunsets and piped classical music.
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A smart sci-fi with an engaging vision of the future
bob the moo2 April 2006
It is the year 2022 and nothing has changed even if things have gotten worse. New York City has become even more overpopulated and is just yet another city heaving in its own filth with countless "have-nots" fighting over sparse resources. Energy supplies are low, water is strictly controlled, living spaces are small and cramped and "real" food is a luxury reserved for the very rich. The masses do not have such luxuries and eat rationed supplies of high-nutrient processed foods from the Soylent Corporation. Detective Thorn is a "have-not" and just like everyone else is out to get what he can for himself and friend Sol Roth. Called to a burglary that became a murder, Thorn learns that the victim is a director at Soylent and suspects that all the curious thing about the crimes may be coming together to be far more than the work of some random thug.

Famous for its "shock" ending (which everyone must know and most people will guess) this film is actually more than just one scene and is actually an intelligent sci-fi detective story that has an engaging central story and a generally interesting vision of the future that is much more convincing than the one of Hollywood blockbusters and such. The investigation is solid but it is the world it happens within that is most interesting as we see a world where, surprise surprise, the poor people are left to make do while those better off can still enjoy the finer things while they remain. It is not an earth shattering view of the future but it is a convincing one and I enjoyed being in this story and seeing this world played out. Personally I bought it but it may help that I mistrust corporations anyway and believe that the poor will be the first to get shafted when anything bad happens, simply because they have less to work with.

The narrative is not the strongest though and in terms of it being a detective story it could have been better. Some viewers have complained about the lack of action, which I think is a pretty unfair accusation since it wasn't trying to be that type of film. The main characters are interesting. Thorn is a man of authority but he is just like everyone else, out to get what he can and takes advantage of others the first chance he gets. His relationship with Roth is not fully explained but it worked anyway and provided a touch of humanity. It helps that both actors did good jobs of it as well. Heston normally plays the gruff hero but here at least he allows the corruption within man's heart to come out. Robinson has less of a character but his performance is assured and is touching for reasons internal and external to the film. Support is not so good but it is less important in the smaller roles; Cotton is a nice find though.

Overall this is a famous film that is good but not without its faults. The narrative is reasonably interesting and carries the film all the way to a nice (but too well-known) conclusion but it is in the general vision of the future of a world where the people are struggling to get by with resources running low. A smart sci-fi that is well worth seeing.
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Only five years from forewarned!
mark.waltz10 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Not as potent as it was nearly 45 years ago, "Soylent Green" is a variation of the "1984" theme, a grim view of an undesirable future. It's 2022 New York City, overpopulated and certainly not an apple right off the tree. In fact, there are very few trees left in the city, and very little food. When food does become available, it's from the Soylent company, and here green is the preferred product. What it is exactly is no surprise to film historians, but to those who do not know, it is beyond shocking.

At times, the film moves very slowly, but it's a slow road to the inevitable revelation. This is a frightening world where the living are nearly dead inside and desperation is severely felt. You can almost feel the stench, one that even in the heat of the summer, New York hasn't felt yet. In a sense, the film has to move at this speed to get the emotions in the viewers going, and once the film reaches its destination, you are so numbed by the horror of the future that the impact of it all is that much stronger.

Reunited from "The Ten Commandments", Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson are friends here, not foes, and when police officer Heston brings Robinson home some surprises, the joy on EGR's face is tear inducing. In fact, Robinson gives a performance so beautiful, it's the best screen swan song an actor could have. He gets a farewell in a scene so poignant that you might be shaking in emotion. Robinson didn't get the Oscar nomination he richly deserved, but an honorary one was given to him, sadly posthumously.

A supporting cast of many well known actors of the time goes from Joseph Cotten as a murdered millionaire, Chuck Conners as a brutal assassin, Leigh Taylor Young as a presumed high class prostitute, Brock Peters as Heston's supervisor aware of the conspiracy, Leonard Stone as a slimy pimp, Whit Bissel as the governor (running the state from a tent in what used to be Gramercy Park) and Paula Kelly as Conners' mistress. This is sometimes hard to watch because it sometimes seems so possible, yet ridiculously outlandish in normal times. But normal times have long disappeared, and sensitive viewers may indeed see this as a living nightmare of where society is heading...or possibly reached.
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"Soylent Green is people!"
classicsoncall29 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I remember the spirited controversy surrounding "Soylent Green" when it first came out and oddly, I didn't go to see it back in 1973. I'm sorry I didn't, I was only about ten minutes into the picture today when I thought to myself that it was pretty remarkable. The opening scene was intended to portray what trouble would be in store for Earth and mankind some fifty years into the future, back when there were a couple billion people less on the planet than there are now. However the projection of New York City's population of forty million in 2022 isn't going to happen. Nice try though, and hey, present day environmentalists and global warming enthusiasts will no doubt find solace in the story's grim projections about the greenhouse effect and 'everything burning up'. But only two years later, in 1975, Newsweek Magazine had a cover story about the threat of global COOLING and the anticipated problems of shorter growing seasons and the possibility of worldwide famine due to crop failures. It all goes in cycles you see, and by the time the 'real' 2022 rolls around, there will no doubt be yet another different spin on global climate change, when in fact, the Earth's temperature doesn't really vary much at all.

Hey, how about 'Tuesday is Soylent Green Day'; I still remember the ads for 'Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day'. You don't see or hear those anymore, in fact my local supermarket doesn't even carry Prince spaghetti anymore. How about Sol Roth's description of soylent - "tastleless, odorless, crud'! Speaking of Sol Roth, it was cool seeing Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, even if some of his dialog with Charlton Heston had me doing double takes regarding their masculinity. It reminded me of a Robinson role going all the way back to 1931 opposite James Cagney no less, screen legends who managed to confound this viewer with expressions of 'sweetheart' and 'dearie' in the film "Smart Money".

And holy cow!, the film also featured the old Rifleman himself, Chuck Connors, as a bodyguard for the assassinated director of The Soylent Corporation. I sort of wished he had his tricked out rifle along but that would have changed the whole tempo of things. The Joseph Cotten appearance had me a little baffled, I think a little more time could have been spent on his 'willingness' to be murdered.

You know, the picture reminded me a lot of one of my favorite 'Twilight Zone' episodes from a dozen years earlier, and I wouldn't be surprised if that story might have had a small impact on "Soylent Green". In 'Soylent', if you're thinking ahead and don't know the ending (kind of hard I know with the notoriety it's engendered), the first inkling you might have had about the title foodstuff would have come when the 'diggers' were called in for the rioting populace. All those bodies being hauled off to an unknown outcome kind of gives you a hint that 'Soylent Green is people'! In the TZ episode 'To Serve Man', the finale is reached with a lot more subtlety and it hits you a lot more forcefully. For the uninitiated, the title comes from the story of an alien race that solves all of Earth's problems, and in return, appreciative Earthlings travel through space to visit the planet of the Kanamits. The punch line - 'To Serve Man' was the aliens' cookbook!

The only other thought I have has to do with the film's status as a sci-fi flick. Even though the concept is definitely in that league, others on this board have mentioned that the filming and effects utilized didn't distinguish it from some of the other memorable films of the era, for example, 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey", or 1971's "A Clockwork Orange". Heck, even as far back as the 1950's, you had pictures like "War of the Worlds" (1953) and "Forbidden Planet" (1956) using much more in the way of special effects to tell their story. Even so though, given those apparent budget limitations, the picture is still a unique achievement and holds up pretty well after lo, these three decades. I'm sure a modern day re-make would add a few more twists, but then again, as with so many movies, there's nothing like the original.
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One of the Great Heston Science Fiction Films
gavin694210 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective (Charlton Heston) finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.

I have checked the spoiler box because I may accidentally say too much about the end. I think just about everyone knows what the "twist" is in this movie, but I will try to be careful just the same. The twist is, in fact, the worst part of this film. Rather than being the big shocker that it should be, audiences have enough hints throughout the picture that it should be anticlimactic by the time everything is revealed. And that is just too bad.

Unfortunately, that build up tends to be the bulk of the film (because of how it ties in to the primary plot -- a murder investigation). The murder case and eventual reveal could have actually been done in just about any world. Yet, here we have a world of overpopulation, poverty, women being used as "furniture"... and these concepts are never really explored. Why do people sleep on the stairs rather than in the street? If the world is overheated, I would much rather be in an alley than a staircase!

Charlton Heston is great, of course, but the heart and soul of this movie are in Edward G. Robinson. Making this film while almost completely deaf and dying of cancer, he is the most human character in the film. He may be the only one who remembers the world the way it used to be, the way we (the audience) expect the world to be. Robinson nails it, giving the performance of his career. I love his noir and gangster work, but this was tops.
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the wearing of the green...
lee_eisenberg16 April 2006
In the '70s, Charlton Heston starred in sci-fi flicks of varying quality. "Soylent Green" is one of the better ones. He plays Robert Thorn, a detective in 2022 New York. In this future, most food is so expensive that everyone needs a product called Soylent Green. But when Thorn finds out the unsavory truth about this product, he finds himself on the run.

I guess that it's only natural that this movie should seem dated to us nowadays. But even so, it still brings up interesting questions about what will become of our agriculture. Also starring Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Brock Peters, Joseph Cotten and Edward G. Robinson (in his final role).
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Man Eaters of New York.
rmax30482330 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's New York about thirty years from now, crowded beyond belief, polluted, filled with garbage, uncomfortably hot all year round, and all commodities scarce except for the tasteless crackers called Soylent -- just like the rest of the world.

Charlton Heston is a New York City cop cooped up with his crotchety friend and researcher (his "book", because books are scarce), Edward G. Robinson. An extremely wealthy businessman, Joseph Cotten, is beaten to death in his luxury apartment and Heston is assigned to the case. He makes his way on foot to Cotten's apartment, stepping over the bodies, living and dead, that are piled on the streets and stairways.

Well -- this is some apartment! Heston walks in and gazes stupefied at the tchotchkas and the furniture. The "furniture" includes the succulent Leigh Taylor-Young. No wonder he gawks. She comes with the apartment, if the resident wants her to, because living space is almost impossible to find.

Heston, whom we are used to seeing as an upright man of principle, strides casually around the scene of the crime, chatting with Taylor-Young before he beds her down. Does he steal anything from the well-stocked apartment? "Everything I could lay my hands on." There's some wilted lettuce, a half-turgid stalk of celery, and two apples. There's even a cut of beef. Heston takes it all home to Robinson, who is old enough to remember what this stuff is, and Robinson makes a bit of stew out of it and helps drain the confiscated bottle of bourbon. Heston takes an indifferent munch out of the lettuce but Robinson has tears in his eyes and he savors the feast.

The trail gets a little twisted. Cotten turns out to have been on the board of Soylent AND a relative of the mayor. People begin to tail Heston and take pot shots at him. His boss, Brock Peters, tells him to lay off the case, as all cops' bosses do. In other words, something is rotten in the state of New York besides the garbage. Actually, there may be no more state of New York. The city of New York now adjoins the city of Philadelphia. (Good-bye, New Jersey.) Looking northward, the boundary may abut the city of Boston, perhaps somewhere around East Windsor, Connecticut.

Heston persists in following the few clues that show up, not so much out of morality but because he doesn't want to lose his job. But Robinson discovers the secret behind Soylent first. It depletes whatever resources Robinson had left and he decides to have an institution send him on his eternal journey.

In a poignant scene, Robinson is wheeled into a room of his favorite color, given a painless poison, and is free to watch movies of an earth with natural features that are pristine and beautiful and majestic -- all the things we are recklessly discarding as we carry on with our daily lives now -- and Robinson is treated to a melange of light classics that include romantic snatches of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Tchaikovsky, and Grieg. Heston bursts in and is more astonished by the IMAX images of deer, snow-veined Alps, apple blossoms, and rolling ocean than he was at the slab of meat. Meat, Heston recognized for what it was. But he's never seen anything like the film he -- and Robinson in his last moments -- witness. Heston is unable to even speak.

Anyway, he follows Robinson's body out of the Extinction Room or whatever it is, and he too discovers the secret behind the mystery of Soylent, which by now every viewer has also figured out. The film doesn't end on a particularly hopeful note.

How well does the movie do at predicting what the world will look like in fifty years? Well, yes and no. It makes the usual assumption that the future will have what we have now, only there will be more of it and it will be bigger. (The futuristic movies of the 1930s had propeller-driven airplanes in every garage.) The quantum leaps that introduce revolutionary social and technological change are usually missed. (The jet airplane did more than make cross-country movement faster; it vulgarized travel, homogenized the world, and eliminated the exotic.) The movie (and presumably the original story) also got the chief assumption behind population growth wrong. Right now, there are more than 6 billion people in the world. This number will more than double by 2050, along with all the problems that accompany it -- pollution, urban sprawl, scarce commodities, and the rest of it. But the streets will never be filled with piles of supernumeraries. Population irruptions such as we're undergoing now, have been studied in numerous animal populations. Thomas Malthus, E. O. Wilson, E. T. Hall, and Paul Ehrlich have written about what happens, and so have I, if I can put myself in this exalted company. What happens is that the population "crashes" from stress-related diseases or opportunistic infections before the hand-to-mouth phase is reached. Ulcers, heart failure, and AIDS are examples. Wars too, if you can think of them as a stress-related disease. To paraphrase Malthus, if we don't stop it, Nature will.

Don't get me started on cannibalism either. Anthropologists don't only ask "why"; they also ask "why not"? Do I have a few more lines left? If I get too close to the limit, somebody flap a napkin at me. This may sound queer, but it may be Charlton Heston's best performance, including his efforts at Shakespeare. He's not a very expressive actor but his insouciance as he wanders through the dead Cotten's apartment, opening drawers, leaving nonchalant insults in his wake, openly stuffing a pillow case with every valuable in sight (except Leigh Taylor-Young, who is too big), is marvelous. He's played "masterful" many times before, but never with such irony.
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A cop investigates a strange murder in an overcrowded New York City and discovers terrible events
ma-cortes23 April 2012
This is a superb sci-fi movie upon a classic novel written by Harry Harrison titled : Make room ! Make room ! . In 2022, the population of New York has about forty million inhabitants living in miserable conditions and grossly overcrowded , a real hellhole , and Manhattan has become a big rubbish . In the overpopulated futuristic city , a New York police detective named "Thorn (Charlton Heston) , finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff . Food is so scarce and to combat hunger the government creates a strange product , a synthetic food made of soybeans and lentils , the "Soylent Green¨ (title refers to a precious stuff) for people to eat , but the cop and his old partner named Roth (Edward G. Robinson), a survivor from another era , are investigating killing of bigwig , and they suspect the tracks behind the new food result to be a little unsettling . In the process , Thorn stumbles onto explosive secret .

Richard Fleischer creates a magnificent science fiction film without special effects and full of intrigue , drama , thrills , suspense , fights and interesting issues . Charlton Heston starred a pessimistic but well-intentioned trilogy about a Dystopian Earth : ¨Soylent Green¨ along with "The Planet of the Apes" and "The Omega Man", all great films . The whole film has a great originality from the narrative view-point , dealing with a cop who investigates and discovers an incredible government secret . It has a great plot for a very bitter ending , which is accompanied by a sensitive musical score . The best moments of the movie are given by starring Charlton Heston providing a good acting and especially the presence of Edward G. Robinson in his last film , a kind of testament of his own life where Robinson says us goodbye . In very serious health due to cancer, Edward G. Robinson was almost entirely deaf when he made this movie, and he was only able to hear anyone if they spoke directly into his ear. Because of this, scenes with him talking to other people had to be shot several times before he got the rhythm of the dialogue and was able to respond to people as if he could really hear them. And because he was unable to hear director Richard Fleischer yell "cut" when a scene went wrong, Robinson would often go on acting out the scene, unaware that shooting had stopped seconds earlier . The musical score of the film is plenty of classic soundtrack , as the score heard when Edward G. Robinson was "going home" is the following one : The overture was the principal theme from the first movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the "Pathetique." When the visual presentation starts, the music is the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony nº6 ,The Pastoral". When the flock of sheep appear, the music is "Morning" from Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite .

The director Fleischer showing efficiently he doesn't need special effects to carry out the horror of the prophecies of Malthus . The last fifteen years the Richard Fleischer's films were not exactly very bright , filming Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris vehicles , but in his first twenty-five years had proved his own right as one of the most interesting directors of American commercial cinema . He was an expert director , including classy adventures (Vikings, 20.000 leagues under sea) and noir cinema (Narrow margin , Clay pigeons , Trapped) . The film will appeal to Sci-Fi buffs with enough though-provoking themes to make it worth looking in on . In other words, it seem likely Charlton Heston enthusiasts and juvenile viewers will be delighted because thrills, action and intrigue are brilliantly presented and edited to offer the maximum impact . Rating : Better than average , watchable movie and well worth seeing .
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"Soylent Green is...!" an unbearable downer
moonspinner5528 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Charlton Heston plays a cop in overpopulated, undernourished 2022 New York City who stumbles upon government secret involving the foodstuff everyone is eating. Another pessimistic vision of a grim, grimy future with memorable scenes of angry crowds pushing and shoving, but unmemorable Heston just going through the motions. Even in his quieter moments with roommate Edward G. Robinson (in his final bow), Heston is about as lively as a brick. As square, colorless thrillers go, "Soylent Green" is tolerable, however it's less a movie and more of an idea that isn't quite realized. Robinson has a bravura dying scene, surrounded by comforting lights and glorious scenes of nature on a wide screen, but the film is melodramatic instead of menacing. ** from ****
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not quite as campy as one might expect, near classic sci-fi
Quinoa198417 April 2008
Soylent Green - the words run shivers down your spine, kind of. At first 'Soylent' sounds like something you might put on your white rice at some fancy Chinese food restaurant. But in reality, at least the reality of 2022 New York, it's almost all that life is. In a future that wasn't too far from the truth as of 2008 in comparison to the conglomerization of corporations (i.e. fewer and fewer companies own things, now it's all scrunched together), 50% of the world's food is by the Soylent corporation, and meat or actual vegetables are so rare a commodity they have to be stolen undercover. Books are also hard to come by, so much so that they too need to be hidden from sight. It's in this realm of a dangerous, overcrowded and overcontroled society that Soylent Green, as a film, gains its power. It's a pretty frightening scenario, if filmed nevertheless (for the last time apparently) on 'old-school' MGM sets.

Charlton Heston is very cool as a hero cop who just tries to do his job so someone else doesn't take it. He has a roommate/mentor in Edward G. Robinson's Sol (Robinson's last role, he still's got it), and he reminds him of the 'good old days', where it wasn't the people so much as just having things, knowing things actually existed that didn't keep people trapped. Heston is investigating a murder of a high-society chap (Joseph Cotton, barely on-screen for a scene), who turns out to be an ex-board of director's member of Soylent corp. There's more than Heston would've thought, especially as he's tailed, falls for the young girl who used to look after Cotton's apartment, and soon finds the one tailing him is really out to kill him. What is the big deal about this guy, or for that matter Soylent Green?

The answer is obvious to anyone who's had the film told to them what it's about (Heston's line towards the end is the sibling-quote to his last lines in Planet of the Apes, to put it that way). But even with that twist in the climax, it all unfolds in a fascinating form. It's mature sci-fi, with only a few jokey parts (i.e. the trucks plowing people away), and a hard edge to it, at least as far as hard-edged Charlton Heston vehicles can get. It's not even so much Fleischer's direction that makes it so compelling- though he is a consummate professional through and through and does, to his credit, make those final minutes with Robinson in the screening room incredible as moving cinema- but the screenplay. There's a lot to think about behind some of the dated action scenes; there's a thought process to go just a step farther, as entertainment and intellectually, as a piece of commercial work. By the time those over-acted lines are belted out, the message has been made quite clear. I liked it a lot. A-
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Now, THIS is what we call Science-Fiction!
Coventry17 July 2005
"Soylent Green" is one of the best and most disturbing science fiction movies of the 70's and still very persuasive even by today's standards. Although flawed and a little dated, the apocalyptic touch and the environmental premise (typical for that time) still feel very unsettling and thought-provoking. This film's quality-level surpasses the majority of contemporary SF flicks because of its strong cast and some intense sequences that I personally consider classic. The New York of 2022 is a depressing place to be alive, with over-population, unemployment, an unhealthy climate and the total scarcity of every vital food product. The only form of food available is synthetic and distributed by the Soylent company. Charlton Heston (in a great shape) plays a cop investigating the murder of one of Soylent's most eminent executives and he stumbles upon scandals and dark secrets... The script is a little over-sentimental at times and the climax doesn't really come as a big surprise, still the atmosphere is very tense and uncanny. The riot-sequence is truly grueling and easily one of the most macabre moments in 70's cinema. Edward G. Robinson is ultimately impressive in his last role and there's a great (but too modest) supportive role for Joseph Cotton ("Baron Blood", "The Abominable Dr. Phibes"). THIS is Science-Fiction in my book: a nightmarish and inevitable fade for humanity! No fancy space-ships with hairy monsters attacking our planet.
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We're living in this movie
BandSAboutMovies28 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
As we were rewatching this film last week, Becca said, "It always seems so hot in this movie, everyone is sweating all the time." And I replied, "Yeah. We're kind of living in it now." Yep, other than turning people into food and my stairwells being filled with sleeping people, the world of Soylent Green feels like its getting closer every single day.

Was Charlton Heston the poster boy of the apocalypse? Between this, Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man, Chuck was in a ton of end of the war films. This is based on Harry Harrison's book Make Room, Make Room. Harrison's writing may seem like slam bang science fiction action, but it hides in its heart plenty of satire and a marked disdain for violence and the military.

Heston plays NYPD detective Frank Thorn, who lives with his elderly police analyst Solomon Roth, played by Edward G. Robinson in his final role. I can barely watch him in this movie without being moved to tears, as he died from bladder cancer 12 days after filming ended. Heston said, "He knew while we were shooting, though we did not, that he was terminally ill. He never missed an hour of work, nor was late to a call. He never was less than the consummate professional he had been all his life. I'm still haunted, though, by the knowledge that the very last scene he played in the picture, which he knew was the last day's acting he would ever do, was his death scene. I know why I was so overwhelmingly moved playing it with him." That scene decimates me every single time that I watch it, as Solomon realizes that his time, a time that remembers the past (he's one of the few alive who can read from old books) is now gone. As he lies in state as part of the euthanasia process, Thorn tries in vain to stop him but is soon mesmerized by the footage of extinct animals and a once green world.

Outside of Sol, everyone in this film is corrupt. Thorn and his fellow cops steal everything they can from the murder scenes that they investigate when they aren't being riot cops, using bulldozers to lift people and throw them in the air. He even takes advantage of murder victim William R. Simonson's (Joseph Cotten!) live-in lover, Shiri (some women in the future are allowed to be concubines and live in luxury; Thorn refers to her as furniture). And Chuck Connors shows up as Simonson's bodyguard.

This film frightens me because so much of it is prophetic. The Twin Towers are gone in this future. The things that Sol says to Thorn, like "Ocean's dying, plankton's dying" are happening as well. This movie is nearly fifty years old and predicts the greenhouse effect that so many people don't want to see is happening.

Director Richard Fleischer would go on to have a career of ups and downs. The son of animator Max Fleischer, he'd also direct Amityville 3-D, Red Sonja, Conan the Destroyer, Fantastic Voyage, Madingo, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the horrific Neal Diamond vehicle, The Jazz Singer. That's probably the most all over the place directorial credits ever.
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Empty Calories
tedg26 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I remember thinking this was vacuous when it was new. Seeing it now, it seems to have lost even more value. Many films work in spite of bad writing, poor acting and casual production values, but not this one because — I surmise — that it is simply bad science fiction. This was sent into the world with the supposition that its clever vision of the future plus a 'surprise' ending would carry it.

The futures in better science fiction have more than one simple extrapolation. But here we have only the one: the world has become overpopulated and hungry. That's it. Greedy corporations figure out the obvious supply and demand equation: turn people into food. Many people not in the conspiracy seem to know it; they just need proof. But oddly, Heston's character thinks that because he has seen the factory he has proof?

And Robinson in his last role is understandably dull.

The 'girl' is troubling. She is 'furniture' a bedmate that comes with the upscale apartment of a character. We see many of these girls, all abused. The best thing that happens to her is Heston's character might rescue her, so that she is merely denigrated, less physically abused. She is played by an appropriately dull busty actress with deferential poise and long red hair. That her future with the cop would be seen as a savior is embarrassing today.

As it happens, this is the first of the films I see that I will be modeling for our web project:

Though the main detective (our designated on-screen observer) is Heston's character, Thorn, the main action takes place with his partner, a researcher played by Robinson, Sol Roth. He is a second detective, one folded in who discovers things in parallel. He's Jewish, a man of the people of the Book who cherishes books. He is actually called a 'book,' the same way the girl is 'furniture.' (The reason books have become so rare in only a generation is not explained.)

Thorn provides a book that indicates something important. Sol takes the book and his insight to an underground group of similar 'books' who support a sort of revolutionary movement to preserve truth and insight. Sol learns more about this important thing (which is not yet revealed to us), and is discouraged enough to end his life. So he goes to a suicide facility.

Two folds: once in the suicide facility, he is given the drug and the gift of seeing movies in his last moments. Thorn, our primary surrogate observer, gets an unauthorized opportunity to witness this as well. These inner films are designed to be the fulcrum of the movie, because the way the film starts is through an overlong sequence of out-of-narrative films. Ted's law applies: these first movies are lifeless, even despondent, then we have the movie proper, then we have these 'reward' movies.

(Clearly, this was influenced by 'A Clockwork Orange.')

Its is stretch to include the fact that Sol went to this even with real food in his belly, the first real food in decades and that he is consciously starting the process of becoming himself artificial food. But I include it anyway, because that was part of my experience.

I see that a remake is on the way. Good. This could be a great structure for a film.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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The Best Environmental Film Of Its Era
Theo Robertson19 May 2003
As with all environmentally aware films from the 1970s SOYLENT GREEN has a rather cheesy view of what ecological meltdown is . Overpopulation means there`s too many people to feed ? I was under the impression that famines were caused by either war or failed economic policies . Stalin`s policy in the Soviet Union in the 1930s left millions dead because of famine and to this day the greatest man made tragedy was Mao`s rural policy in China which led over 30 million starvation deaths in the 1950s . And let`s not forget the great famines in the horn of Africa in the 1980s and 90s which were to do with conflicts not overpopulation . You might like to also consider that two of the most heavily populated areas on Earth , Hong Kong and Macau , have never suffered a famine in modern times . Likewise the expansion of shanty towns around cities as seen here isn`t strictly down to overpopulation - it`s down to economic factors where people flock to cities to find better paid work than in the countryside ( It`s a symptom of industrial progress - not of too many births ) so the image of the streets of New York city being too congested to walk through and of having people sleep in stairwells is somewhat laughable

But don`t be fooled into thinking SOYLENT GREEN is a pile of corny tree hugging crap because I consider this to be the best ecological film of the

70s . It plays on the contempary audience`s knowledge of the world where Sol and Thorn are beside themselves with joy at finding fruit , brandy and fresh meat . Thorn gasps in amazement at having ice in his whisky , puffs on a cigarette and delivers the classic line " If I could afford it I`d smoke two , maybe three of these a day " . But it`s the visage of the euthanasia chamber that`s memorable as Thorn gazes at the images of wild animals , flowers , running water and snow covered mountains , a world Thorn`s generation has never known . This is a very haunting scene which makes SOYLENT GREEN a very memorable film , combined with the fact it features the final screen appearance of Edward G Robinson as the wise old Jew Sol Roth
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The 1970s was another mighty fine decade for science-fiction.
Hey_Sweden20 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Nowadays, it's easy to suspect governments and big corporations of just about any nefarious doings. And there's a sinister plot afoot here to deal with an Earth of a future year (2022, just five years away in reality), where the "greenhouse effect" and over population have turned the planet into a portrait of Hell. For example, the opening text tells us that there are 40,000,000 people in NYC alone. A hard-driving NYPD detective, Thorn (Charlton Heston), stumbles onto something big when he investigates the murder of Simonson (Joseph Cotten), a corporation bigwig.

Partly because this movie has been in the public consciousness for so long, it's hard to imagine many people not knowing what the story's big reveal is. You of course won't hear it from this viewer, but it's not hard to figure out. Still, the plot constructed by novelist Harry Harrison (originally titled "Make Room! Make Room!") is intriguing enough to pull you in, and keep you entertained. It might not be quite meaty or involved enough for some "tastes", mind you. Part of Thorn discovering the big secret involves our wrongdoers not seeming to go to great lengths to keep it hidden.

One of the most impressive marvels is the use of extras, as MGM and director Richard Fleischer (of the classic Disney adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea") give us an amazing depiction of overcrowding. For instance, every day, on his way to work, Thorn has to clamber over dozens of bodies filling the corridors and stairways of his run down building. Excellent use is made of classical music, both pre-existing and new stuff composed by Fred Myrow ("Phantasm").

The cast is full of reliable, familiar actors: Chuck Connors, Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, Stephen Young, Mike Henry, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Roy Jenson, Leonard Stone, Whit Bissell, Celia Lovsky, Dick Van Patten. Leigh Taylor-Young is beautiful and endearing as Shirl, a young woman living in a future where a young woman can be referred to as "furniture" and simply come with an apartment. Heston is solid as usual, but "Soylent Green" really belongs to the wonderful Edward G. Robinson, around 80 years old at the time and making his 101st feature film appearance. Sadly, it would turn out to be his last, making his final scenes even more poignant and powerful.

This is definitely striking entertainment, even more when one considers the ending.

Eight out of 10.
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"People were always rotten, but the Earth was beautiful."
LeonLouisRicci19 November 2014
This is one of those Films that has Entered the Popular Culture and even People who have Not Seen it are Aware of it and the Twist Ending.

Charlton Heston Made Three Sci-Fi Films in the Period, Planet of the Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1971) and this one. While Not as Rich and Rewarding as Apes, it is Better than Omega.

"Soylent Green" is a Dark and somewhat Disturbing Dystopian Tale with a Crime Story at its Core. But, Make No Mistake it is a Message Movie and the Message of Overpopulation and other Human Created Problems concerning Planet Earth and its Environment Resonate Readily.

Edward G. Robinson (in His last role) also Makes an Impression and the Scene "Going Home" is one of the Films Highlights. While Not a very Visual Film, and what Little Money Spent on the Exteriors Shows a Lack of Imagination and is quite Flimsy Looking.

In Fact the Visuals of the Movie are Unimpressive. The Scenes in the Upper Class Apartment Drag and the Film does tend to be Clunky in Spots.

Overall, it is Basically a Powerful Picture Despite its Shortcomings and should Definitely be Seen at least Once. Repeating Viewings will Not Hold Up, but the Film Cannot be Denied its Cultural Impact and is Certainly a Product and an Icon of its Era.
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"There was a world once."
utgard1411 April 2014
In the year 2022, the world is kind of a mess due to overpopulation and pollution and all of the big panic-button issues of the '70s. In the midst of all this, the president of the Soylent Corporation is murdered. The Soylent Corporation makes processed food from plankton in the oceans. Their newest product is a green wafer called Soylent Green and it's supposed to be more nutritious than their previous products. Police detective Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder which draws him into the mystery behind Soylent Green. Chances are you know the big secret already even if you haven't seen the film. Heston's famous line went on to become a pop culture catchphrase. Plus, if you're reading IMDb reviews you're almost certainly going to be spoiled as half of the reviews I've read here boldly list the plot twist without any warning at all.

Heston is good but the highlight of the film is Edward G. Robinson in his last film role. A brilliant, touching performance from a legendary actor; one of the greats. Richard Fleischer's direction is excellent. Love the music and sets. The story is smart and interesting. This is an exciting, unique sci-fi thriller from a time before dystopian sci-fi stories became so cliché-ridden and dull.
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Ah, people were always lousy. But there was a world, once.
lastliberal15 September 2007
This sci-fi classic is still good even if you know the ending, which I will not tell you.

Charleton Heston is a NYPD Detective. That's New York in 2022, when there are 40 million people. There is no real food except for the super rich. The rest of the people eat crackers made of soybeans or plankton - when they can get it. People sleep practically on top of each other: on stairways, in doorways, anywhere they can.

A rich man is murdered and the trail that Heston is following leads him to the truth. The Truth! No, you can't handle the truth, which is why it is a closely guarded secret and the rich man became unreliable.

Great support by such stars as Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, and Edward G. Robinson.

I like director Richard Fleischer, who died last year. He directed my favorite Charles Bronson movie - Mr. Majestyk.
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Food For Thought
zardoz-1320 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Sluggish best describes "Fantastic Voyage" director Richard Fleischer's "Soylent Green," a polished, but dystopian melodrama that combines a science-fiction premise with a police procedural murder-mystery adapted from the Harry Harrison novel "Make Room! Make Room!" Charlton Heston stars as Frank Thorn, a grubby but conscientious New York City Police detective, who hasn't had a hot shower in years. He never dons a uniform, so he looks more like an undercover cop. He shares a claustrophobic apartment with an elderly man Solomon "Sol" Roth (Edward G. Robinson of "Little Caesar") who serves as his 'book.' Meaning, in a metropolis laden with smog, overpopulation, and borderline energy resources, there aren't many who remember how to read, but Roth can, and he provides Thorn with all the information that he needs about his suspects. Incidentally, this was Robinson's farewell performance. Furthermore, sources say he passed away ten days later from cancer after shooting wrapped. "Soylent Green" takes place in the Big Apple in the year 2020, when civilization has disintegrated into a nightmare for all except the affluent wealthy. They reside in luxurious high-rise apartments, dine on the finest food and drink, while the less fortunate wither away beneath them in the streets, and survive minimally on a green wafer called Soylent. Soylent amounts to the fast food of the future, and it is manufactured from sea plankton. Being an NYPD carries few special privileges, so Thorn takes advantage of it while he can. When he investigates the murder that occurs early in the action, with a high-ranking official of the Soylent Corporation, William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotton of "Citizen Kane") waiting to die willingly at the hands of his assailant, Thorn appropriates Simonson's 'furniture girl' Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young of "The Big Bounce") for some quick, consensual sex, spruced up with some rare bourbon. Thorn wears the same apparel throughout "Soylent Green" and uniform seems to be the order of the day for everybody else except the wealthy. Initially, Thorn suspected both Simonson's bodyguard, Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors of "The Rifleman"), and Simonson's 'furniture' gal Shirl were the killers. Later, he confronts Gilbert (Stephen Young of "The Thin Red Line") in a crowd during a shoot-out, but he never proves that the latter killed Simonson. The brutality of Gilbert's murder of Simonson is tastefully staged so we never see Gilbert's blows connect with Simonson. We see Gilbert swing the instrument that kills Simonson but nothing more. The willingness of Simonson to submit to his death is haunting in itself. In a brief role that amounts to a cameo, Joseph Cotton is simply brilliant. The way that Simonson allows himself to die is similar but more painful to Roth's assisted suicide death toward the end of the film. Roth has simply given up on living and wants to bid life goodbye. Unfortunately, Fleischer never generates adequate momentum and "Soylent Green" grinds along and then ends surprisingly short at 97-minutes. The garbage collection trucks that have been equipped with scoops to scoop-up rioter is interesting, and there is a stupefying horror at the appearance of euthanasia centers that administer narcotic potions, put customers onto a dais where they watch on wrap-around screens the beauty of the world before the ecological catastrophe afflicted Earth. Not-surprisingly, there is little humor in this grim film. The ending qualifies this movie as a message picture, and ultimately food for thought. Poignant but predictable, "Soylent Green" qualifies as an above-average, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi epic. This Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film was nominated for a Hugo Award in the Best Dramatic Presentation category, and it received 'the Golden Scroll' Award from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, in 1974.
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Original, clever, ahead-of-its-time thriller
grantss15 June 2016
2022 and Earth is in dire condition. Natural resources have been exhausted and food is largely provided by Soylent, a company that makes packaged meals from plankton. Against this backdrop we meet Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston), a police homicide detective. His latest case is the murder of William R Simonson, an executive at Soylent.

Original, clever, ahead-of-its-time thriller. Great plot, well directed. Charlton Heston rises above his usual wooden acting to put in a good performance. Best performance on show, however, is from Edward G Robinson, as Sol.

It is amazing the environmental picture this movie paints, as it was made in 1973, before anyone worried about global warming etc. It is starting to look fairly accurate, unfortunately.
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A rare clever and well made '70's science-fiction movie.
Boba_Fett113821 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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