Saturday Movie Review – “Soylent Green”

Our first July review kicks off with a dystopian classic. Also planned for this month are the Director’s Cuts of Stargate and Terminator 2, and the theatrical cut of Wargames. Note that the published schedule is apt to change, as I doubt I’ll have time to get through three a week in August, or more in October.

Cast and Crew Information

Charlton Heston as Thorn
Leigh Taylor-Young as Shirl
Edward G. Robinson as Sol

Written by Stanley R. Greenberg, based on a Harry Harrison novel.
Directed by Richard Fleischer


Set in 2022, fifty years after the movie was filmed, overpopulation has become a very serious problem. Food shortages abound, unemployment is rampant, and the police officer assigned to the murder of a very important man is almost as corrupt as the people he hunts.

High Point

Keeping the secret (which I’ll not spoil, though it’s probably been spoiled for most of the site’s readers) away from the audience until the last few seconds, even though the characters know what it is.

Low Point

The complete lack of subtlety in Sol’s rants.

The Scores

As with most adaptations, there’s a limit on the originality one can have. It’s not, after all, the filmmakers’ complete creation. This was one of the earliest movies to really hit the environmental angle, though. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were very minimal. Squibs and (really, really bright) fake blood cover their needs, but were unconvincing. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story would have been more entertaining if the environmental commentary weren’t so dominant. Had they put more emphasis on solving the murder and left that as a background and setting, it could have delivered the same message while still making the plot more entertaining. (There are times it’s easy to forget the murder that’s supposed to be driving the thing.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is mostly good. A few scenes weren’t terribly convincing, but several worked well. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production wasn’t too bad. The yellow filtering in the exterior scenes was painfully obvious, and the editing could have been tightened a lot in places. (How many inserts do we need to figure out where the electricity is coming from?) I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response would have been a lot better had I not been spoiled repeatedly over the past few decades. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a film worth seeing, but not worth going out of your way for. Of course, if you’ve managed to go unspoiled about the ending, see it as soon as possible, while there’s still a chance of being surprised. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Soylent Green receives 27 out of 42.

2 replies on “Saturday Movie Review – “Soylent Green””

    Um, not soylent brown. How could I resist? :) But I remember the specific line I just avoided saying being pretty horrifying the first time I saw this movie. :)


  2. Ahh, Charlton Heston
    This movie has one of the best Heston quotes evah!!, right up there with "Planet of the Apes". It must be strange for Heston, who’s played Moses and has umpteen Acadamy awards that the best known bits of dialog he’s ever done are from somewhat cheesy sci-fi flicks :).

    One thing though about Soylent Green: While the movie was primarily a statement on environmentalism, there were a few details that spoke about other topics.

    First off, there was the feminist angle with the ‘furniture’. Live-in sex service for steady meals. How better to stab at feminist ideals than to show that in a stress environment women will revert to a submissive role and seek men’s protection.

    Then there’s the Euthanasia chambers, practical service in an overcrowded planet but still a nice commentary that people should be able to choose the time of their deaths. Something that resonates to this day.

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