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Michael Anderson
Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Anderson Jr., Peter Ustinov
Writing Credits:
William F. Nolan (novel, "Logan's Run"), George Clayton Johnson (novel, "Logan's Run"), David Zelag Goodman

Welcome to the 23rd Century: A perfect world of total pleasure, With just one catch ...

The year is 2274, civilization exists under a huge dome, and everyone is encouraged to lead a pleasure-filled lifestyle. There's just one hitch: no one is allowed to live past the age of 29. This doesn't sit well with three friends, who decide to escape from their domed (and doomed) existence.

Box Office:
$9 million.
Domestic Gross
$25.000 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 9/29/1998

• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Anderson, Actor Michael York and Costume Designer Bill Thomas
• “Logan's Run: A Look Into the 23rd Century” Featurette
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Logan's Run (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 25, 2007)

During the early 1960s, rock music went through a hard time. Many feel that in 1958-59 a series of events such as Elvis entering the Army and Buddy Holly's death really took the wind out of rock's sails, and that things wouldn't rebound until 1964 when the Beatles made their mark in the US. This viewpoint seems somewhat narrow-minded - it ignores the positive contributions of acts like the Beach Boys and the Motown groups - but in many ways it appears pretty accurate: there sure was a lot of crappy music flying around during that time period.

Of course, there's always a lot of crappy music in whatever time period - it's just that there was so little good following rock's "Golden Age" and there was so much bad. The biggest hit of 1963 - Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs – epitomizes the problems of those lean years. Is this the worst song of all time? I won't make that claim, but it must be close! (Don't believe me? Find our for yourself: http://www.fireballs-original.com/wavs/sugshack.wav.) No wonder the Beatles did so well the following year.

So what does this have to do with DVD? Not much, but I wanted to draw a historical comparison to the situation in which science fiction films found themselves in the mid-1970s. Lots of dreck, pretty much nothing of worth until 1977 when Star Wars did to films what the Beatles did to music in 1964. If things are historically comparable, I guess that means that the biggest hit science fiction film of 1976 must have been a cinematic Sugar Shack, right? Definitely! (You think I would have gone this far if that wasn't the case?)

What was that science fiction hit from 1976? Logan's Run. That clunker apparently was the best the genre had to offer before George Lucas came along to liven things up - now that's a scary thought.

I never saw Logan's Run during its theatrical release, although you'd think I would have been in the target audience. After all, I was nine in 1976, and it seems like the kind of film I would have seen, but for whatever reason, I didn't. In fact, I'm not sure I ever saw it prior to watching the DVD. I recall seeing the TV show spinoff in the late 1970s, but I can't attest with any certainty that I ever viewed the film itself.

That's probably why I had a happy childhood. I didn't expect much from Logan's Run and yet it managed to underperform all of my expectations. I won't claim that it's the worst movie of all time, but it has to be a contender.

That's kind of sad, because the story itself isn't bad. It offers an interesting idea of a possible future society, and even if the science fiction aspects of it didn't work, it could have at least made for a good "chase" film. Unfortunately, it succeeded on neither front and managed solely to be a thoroughly frightful piece of work.

Other than the possibilities that the story could have offered, I can find nothing of merit to Logan's Run. Actually, that's not completely true - there's a little bit of nudity that I rather enjoyed. Other than that, the movie has virtually nothing going for it.

The acting? Atrocious. The worst episode of Star Trek surpassed the performances found here. Leads Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Richard Jordan? Tremendously campy and hammy, each one of them; even the scenes that could have worked became laughable because of their work. Amazingly, the actors in smaller roles did even worse, including then-newcomer Farrah Fawcett-Majors. Of course, the fact that nothing was done to make the 23rd century look at all unlike 1976 didn't help. All those ridiculous hairstyles are bad enough in a movie that takes place in that era - it's positively unbearable when the setting is about 300 years down the road.

I briefly thought that Peter Ustinov's bit as Old Man toward the end of the movie might redeem some of the acting, but I was wrong. I initially mistook his horribly artificial and faux-whimsical performance for something decent, but I soon realized that he sucked as well. He just sucked differently than anyone else.

Virtually every technical aspect of Logan's Run stinks as well. The direction and editing show no signs of life. The whole thing just plods along until they finally reach something that appears to be a conclusion - or maybe they just ran out of film). Even for the time period, the special effects seem terrible. The "laser guns" appear to be modified lighters, and when they hit the mark, silly sparks fly from the target. Again, even the worst episode of Star Trek looked better than this.

Jerry Goldsmith's score fares no better. It alternates between cheesy future schlock - lots of "bips" and "bonks" - and an extremely overwrought traditional score that makes scenes that potentially may have contained suspense even more ridiculous than they already would have been. The latter sections sound like bad outtakes from the Psycho recording sessions. A good score could have redeemed some dignity for this mess, but Goldsmith's work makes the entire package even worse.

I don't know if I can overstate what an irredeemably terrible film this is. It starts out bad and it goes downhill from there. Not one scene of Logan's Run offered any respite from this onslaught of crap. Oh, the humanity! It's hard to believe that science fiction would enjoy such a renaissance just one year later.

In some ways, it doesn't seem quite fair for me to compare Logan's Run to its brethren of the following year. Both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are classics that represent the best the science fiction genre has to offer. Not many films could stand up to that kind of comparison, so of course Logan's Run looks poor in that regard.

However, I do think it's a fair comparison since all these films were big budget studio affairs. It's not like I'm attacking some indie effort because it lacks the production values of the big boys. I'm not condemning Logan's Run because it's not as good as Star Wars or CE3K. I'm condemning it because it's terrible and those films show that it didn't have to be. In other words, no one can defend Logan's Run through an argument that its flaws are endemic to the time period. One year later, Spielberg and Lucas managed to greatly outdo it in every way, so there's no excuse for the poor quality of this effort.

The DVD Grades: Picture D/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Logan’s Run appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Many problems arose in this weak transfer.

Source flaws generated a lot of the concerns. Throughout the film, I constantly witnessed specks, spots, grit, marks, blotches and nicks. These were there much of the time and created many distractions.

Colors looked erratic. While a few shots presented reasonably vivid hues, most of the tones came across as blotchy and messy. Blacks were excessively dense, and shadows appeared somewhat thick and flat.

Sharpness continued the run of troubles. Prominent edge enhancement showed up through the movie, and this left wide shots as messy and undefined. Close-ups usually looked fine, but other bits tended to be soft and fuzzy. I noticed sporadic examples of jags and shimmering as well . The movie suffered from a consistently problematic transfer.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Logan’s Run worked very well for a movie from 1976. The soundfield proved to be quite impressive. It used all the various channels to good effect. Music showed nice stereo presence and also popped up from the rears with frequency. We got a lot of directional speech, and effects appeared in their accurate locations. These fixed us with a good sense of place, especially during the action sequences. Although the elements occasionally seemed a bit “speaker-specific”, given the flick’s age – and the fact it came from an era in which mono was the rule – I could easily forgive this minor distractions.

Audio quality was a little weaker but fine overall. Though speech seemed a little reedy at times, the lines remained intelligible and reasonably natural. Edginess was a minor concern. Music sounded quite good, as the electronic score demonstrated very positive life and vivacity. Effects occasionally packed a punch and were pretty decent, though some louder bits – such as the crowds at Carrousel – were somewhat distorted. The rougher edges kept the track from “A”-level consideration, but I thought it was a fine mix nonetheless.

The disc’s extras open with an audio commentary from director Michael Anderson, actor Michael York and costume designer Bill Thomas. Each man sits separately for this edited track. We learn about how both Anderson and York came onto the project, cast, characters and performances, story issues and deleted scenes, costumes and sets, locations and visual design, various effects, and a mix of other production subjects.

Across the board, this piece gives us a terrific look at the creation of Run. We find lots of nice insights and facts about the film. I may not like the flick in the least, but I find a lot to enjoy about this tight, informative commentary.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, the DVD includes a vintage featurette. Called Logan’s Run: A Look Into the 23rd Century, this nine-minute and 20-second piece mixes movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from Anderson, York, producer Saul David and actor Jenny Agutter. “Look” discusses the movie’s story and characters as well as it sets, visuals and effects. We get a glimpse at how the production used all of these elements. Don’t expect a lot of detail here, but we find many good shots from the set and learn more than we usually find in this sort of promotional featurette.

It probably doesn't take a fortune teller to see where the conclusion to this review will go. Logan’s Run offers a goofy, extremely dated piece of sci-fi cheese. It borders on unwatchable. The DVD presents very good audio but suffers from weak picture quality. Extras seem light, but at least we get a terrific audio commentary. With a list price of less than $10, it’s hard to steer fans away from this DVD, but the dreadful picture quality will disappoint them. Others not as entranced by this atrocious flick should avoid it like the plague.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 4
2 3:
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