Green, purple, red, it’s all the same to me!
Screenplay By: Stanley R. Greenberg
Directed By: Richard Fleischer
Sometimes science fiction gets too ahead of itself with fascinating ideas and forgets that the ideas need to make sense or at least have a decent story around them. Soylent Green would be such a piece of science fiction. There are some great ideas in Soylent Green, and it tries to take full advantage of a futuristic dystopian setting. The scenery is dirty and full of grime, and at times the camera appears to be smudged with dirt to enhance the feeling of dirtiness permeating the world of Soylent Green.
Unfortunately, Soylent Green is high on ideas and low on structure, or attempting to make any sense. Hey, soylent green is people, but why should that matter in the world we are being shown? All kinds of sci-fi standards are thrown about and presented to ensure that the viewer realizes things are bad in this future. But, that’s all Soylent Green ends up as, one sci-fi standard or idea after another with not a thing connecting them to one another. Another area where Soylent Green fails abysmally is in its attempts to say something about society. Soylent Green appears to want to make some sort of statement about consumerism and industrialization, but it doesn’t really say anything about those issues. Look, there’s people laying on the stairs and they have to go to a giant bazaar like place to buy scraps of food, industry and consumerism are bad, bad I say. That’s as deep as Soylent Green gets, I can get that level of deepness in a Sci-Fi Channel Saturday night movie thank you very much.
The final strike against Soylent Green is that you have two good, albeit not noteworthy, performances from Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, but the great Joseph Cotton is on screen for about two minutes and spends thirty seconds of that getting hacked in the back by a stupid looking cleaver. Add to that some hideously bad fight scenes, fake as all get out blood and one terribly executed death by plow/scooper and you have a movie that fails to reach the heights it strives for.
Soylent Green is viewed as a bit of a science fiction classic. I am a huge science fiction aficionado, but I don’t get the love for Soylent Green. Soylent Green is a shoddily made picture with aspirations of being a great philosophical musings movie. But, it’s hard to muse when you don’t give two cents about any of the philosophy or messages being put across. All you need to know is that soylent green is people, and you should know that already, move onto some better science fiction.