plot in a nutshell
It's the year 2022, New York City has a whopping 40 million inhabitants, and
pollution, overcrowding, and all around ugliness abound. Gone are all
the amenities of life, and with little food, water and power, the world has
become a giant cesspool.
Charlton Heston plays Robert
police detective in this God awful future. With little point to doing
anything more than crowd control, the police spend much of their time taking
bribes and fending for themselves. But they still try to solve a crime
occasionally, especially as one as big as the murder of a board member of the
company Soylent Enterprises. They make the little food wafers everyone
survives on - soylent blue, soylent red, and of course, soylent green, made
As Heston investigates, he
finds himself too close to some shocking information, information that was
too much even for the board member of the company to tolerate. The
film ends with the 'surprise' ending, and I won't spoil it for you until the
spoiler section, although just about every show over the last 10 years had
made a joke of it.
Spoiler Free Thoughts
Heston plays the
detective as he does best - with hammy, over-the-top acting. In this
tale of social destruction, it works fairly well, and this film fits in
nicely with his two other big sci-fi films, Planet of the Apes and Omega
the big surprise isn't really all that much of a surprise, the pacing and
cinematography still make this film eerily familiar. It seems just a
tad too plausible at times, particularly since I watched it on the day of
the Big Black Out of '03. I switched between this film and news shows
televising long gas lines and unruly crowds, and began to lose track of
which was which...
it's not quite that bad, and I don't think we'll have to worry about
snacking on soylent green in the next 20 years. But the film has aged
fairly well, and portrays a world that isn't that far from our own.
is also some great acting here, in the form of Edward G. Robinson.
This was his very last film, and he died shortly after making it. His
skill and talent shine through in every scene he's in, and in particular,
his reactions to the special meal that Thorn manages to provide are touching
and telling all at once.
Conners also does a small role, handling it fine, and even Dick Van Patten,
long before he found himself with too damn many kids on a tv show, has an
itsy part. The real star here is the sets and camera work. It's
a nasty world, where respect for human life is all but gone. Futurama
has suicide booths, and Soylent Green has its euthanasia department, but
even with its pretty scenes and soft tunes, its the same thing. When
death is more attractive than life, what choice can there be?
Rating - Rent
This isn't great science fiction, and it's not great acting. But the
movie is good entertainment, with a decent plot that rings a little too true
these days. As I read about schools buying thousands of webcams to
watch students and teachers at every moment (for their own good of course),
and as we debate the pros and cons of state assisted suicide, I realize that
the films and stories of 25 years ago were more prophetic than we might have
wish I could recommend you pick this up - it was just released finally on
DVD a week or so ago - but there's little in the way of extras. If
you're a diehard 70's sci-fi fan, than you'll be picking this up, but for
most folks, just another viewing (or perhaps your first) is all that's
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
just that one big plot point...
Soylent green is people!
Okay, like you didn't know that going in...