THX 1138 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

THX 1138 Reviews

Page 1 of 92
September 1, 2016
A lot like Logan's run but just to slow of a pace to keep audiences locked in. I suspect that the main reason this movie fares well on this website is due to George Lucas's name.
½ July 7, 2016
Lucas's first feature film is a sci-fi dystopia reminiscent of "1984" and "Brave New World." It's not perfect (the pacing is kind of slow and that final chase scene drags), but it's a real promising first film. It's cool to see the beginnings of some of Lucas's trends: the faceless police officers behave very similar to stormtroopers, and the constant video screens, radio communication, and numbering remind me a lot of the Death Star.

There's not much here as far as characters and the story is familiar, but what this film excels at is atmosphere. I love all these industrial sets in parking garages and factories. The color palate is dull and everything is uniform. You can see a lot of later movies (particularly YA movies) adopting this.

Unfortunately, the only version I could find of this was the director's cut. I thought it'd be just a longer version, but Lucas definitely pulled a "Special Edition" on this one. Awful CGI pops up a lot and completely takes you out of the movie. I mean CGI that looks like a 90's video game. It's a real shame because while the technology of the original film is dated, it still works and feels cohesive. But looking at what he's done to Star Wars, I guess it shouldn't surprise me.

Kind of a slow movie, but essential for any sci-fi or film junkie.
½ June 27, 2016
I have no idea what was going on. Hard to follow and very confusing.
½ June 18, 2016
I see where you were going George, and I know this was made in '71, but I thought it could have had a clearer plot.
Film C.
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2016
George Lucas who created the Star Wars saga, THX & Star Wars, both the same categories but very different from on and other.

It looks iconic for the first time I've watched it.
½ June 4, 2016
My favorite Lucas film, even though he's more well known for his later work.
½ May 29, 2016
George Lucas directorial debut gave us a disturbing film about a dystopian future some kind similar to the one portrayed by Aldous Huxley in his book.
February 14, 2016
Pretty cool, but it`s filmmaking from another time. If you can handle that, it`s great. It is probably only for big cinema fans and sci-fi fans cause it`s a little too artsy. But at least it`s not something anybody`ll forget.

It surely influenced Terry Gilliam, Spielberg, even Kubrick I bet. It goes hand in hand with 1984, Brazil and Equilibrium. The director`s cut hugely helps it because it`s already pretty bizarre - it provides much better world building and communication with the viewer.

I prefer sci-fi like 12 Monkeys and Oblivion but this is quite a classic similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.
½ February 10, 2016
NOTE: This film was recommended to me by Dennis Brian for "Steve Pulaski Sees It."

George Lucas's directorial debut THX 1138 proves one major thing in its concise, eighty-eight minute runtime, and that is that a science-fiction film doesn't need to extend past two hours in order to be thoughtful or contemplative. It's all about what a writer/director is willing to convey during its runtime, and whether or not he or she wants to leave the audience with a rich interpretation or a rather lean one. THX 1138 manages to eek out ideas of what it want kind of ideas and themes it wants to leave with its audience, and those ideas question how elaborate and unforeseen the consequences will be for a futuristic dystopia where any emotions that aren't computerized are prohibited, leaving humans and humanoids incapable, or worse, strictly forbidden, from thinking and feeling.

THX 1138 takes place in an undetermined time in the future where sex of any kind is prohibited, and a drug that alters the mind in ways that try to prevent sexual urges is distributed amongst society and made mandatory by the government. Emotions of any kind, as well as family identification are all taboos in this world, and everyone looks the same, boasting an all-white uniform with shaved heads. People are kept in line by a series of police humanoids that come cloaked in black and silver and unafraid to use blunt force on its people.

Social norms and conformity are enforced by two individuals, SEN 5241 (Donald Pleasence) and LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), who monitor a series of surveillance cameras on the city. LUH lives with a male roommate, THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), who works in a factory that creates the same police androids that are watching over the land. THX learns that his workplace is celebrating a record low 195 worker deaths in the last period, which is significantly lower than another factory's 242. It is then that we see what this world is really about: high productivity, few accidents, and a faux idea of happiness so the two former features can commence uninterrupted or with few snags.

Things start taking a turn for the worse for this futuristic land when THX and LUH become romantically involved, specifically when THX's drug dosage gets mixed up and his ability to feel aroused, empathetic, and passion are all restored in his mind. The two wind up carrying out a forbidden relationship that sends this society into a complete meltdown; as a result, the hunt is on for THX to force him to either comply with the lack of emotional tolerance in his community or simply be tried and eventually executed for his so-called crimes.

I'll be blunt and say that I had to thoroughly read the synopsis of THX 1138 upon finishing it. This is one of the few films that I can remember that had me almost completely and totally lost throughout the entire runtime that I needed secondary sources to inform me what was going on and what I had just witnessed. In the case of films by subversive directors, like Orson Welles, or in a modern sense, Christopher Nolan, that kind of narrative ambiguity is expected and welcomed. For Lucas's directorial debut, it comes off as murky and unclear, not necessarily because THX 1138 finds itself functioning largely as a stylistic exercise, but because it is so void of style and color.

Lucas favors backdrops that are whiter than porcelain, with characters in all-white jumpsuits that practically melt into the background, leaving only what appear to be scalps floating in the foreground. Dialog is written in a jumbled, jargon-heavy manner, making conversations between characters unclear and confusing most of the time, and characters are as bland and as non-existent as they come. Obviously, these were conscious decisions made on part of Lucas, who wanted to create this very broad, basic environment where everything we've come to know and accept as people was subtracted and replaced with eternal nothingness. This is an admirable concept, but the execution here leaves a lot to be desired and feels self-defeating.

When characters, thoughtful conversations, and major events are substituted for a lost of aimless wandering and conversing, regardless of the themes the picture is trying to convey, the act of watching such a thing inherently promotes a disconnect amongst the audience. When audiences feel disconnected or alienated, they generally lose interest or don't pay attention, and that is precisely what happened to me during most of THX 1138. I can admire the ambition in scope and idealism from a young Lucas, who would go and craft Star Wars just six years later and start another beast that was just waiting to be dissected and embraced by similar fans of THX 1138, but this is a film that almost entirely escaped me from start to finish.

Starring: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, and Maggic McOmie. Directed by: George Lucas.
January 20, 2016
While the narrative is more engaging in the first half than the second, "THX 1138" is a stunning testimony to the visual and world-building imagination of George Lucas. The cinematography is remarkable, framing with a stark and minimalist elegance, while the dystopian future feels both unapproachably distant yet horrifically close and relevant. The early sequences are where the film is at its best, really engaging with a marvelously constructed world. The middle lags a bit, but it's a minor flaw. For his first feature film, Lucas performs astonishingly well, foreshadowing his immense talents that would eventually swallow up his artistic career in "Star Wars."
January 17, 2016
The first two thirds of the film are a masterwork of visual storytelling - light on plot with minimal dialogue and exposition, but heavy on atmosphere as the visuals tell you all you need to know about who the characters are and what the world they inhabit is like. The last third of the film is where it loses some of its power and charm though as more characters are brought to the forefront and there's a bigger emphasis on plot. Frankly the last third almost feels like it's dragging.

December 22, 2015
For a low budget with a lot of dialogue, its magnificent. And a young robert duvall shows off his acting chops.
½ December 4, 2015
THX 1138 has a fascinating subject matter and premise with some unique visuals, but it is unfortunately executed poorly with weak plot, slow pacing and very weak character development. It is definitely original and interesting, but it is never as smart as it should have been and it is also too boring and way too cold to be enjoyed more.
November 11, 2015
Creative concept for a film released in 1971.
Rather dull, however.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2015
THX 1138 is in many ways a proto-Star Wars. Lucas does a fantastic job creating what feels like a complete futuristic world. The sets, the costuming, etc. are all great. In the sound you can hear what is to come in Star Wars. The film itself is mainly a vehicle for exploring that world and is not great in terms of plot, but for acting it is fine. Overall, the film has the vibe of an intense dystopia that might have followed the 1950s in some alternate history. Definitely recommended for sci-fi fans.
October 5, 2015
As someone who grew up on "Star Wars," I'm kind of surprised with myself that I never watched George Lucas' first feature film. It's an incredibly grim vision of a sterile Orwellian future. Robert Duvall plays one of the nearly identical looking shaved-headed citizens who are held in line by constant surveillance and a robotic and brutal police force. Though made over 40 years ago, the film's themes are even more timely today. Like many other stories like this, the protagonist becomes disenchanted by his oppressive society and seeks to break out. Like many of Lucas' films, the character development is weak, but the overall story has many strong story archetypes and Lucas delivers the strongest visuals of any of his films. There were plenty of exciting moments in his three recent Star Wars films, but the imagery was nowhere as powerful as the stark images shown in this film. It's the simplicity of the imagery that helped make them so memorable. Far from being a commercial film like most of Lucas' subsequent films, and it's probably not gong to appear to most audiences, but I found it a terrific and powerful little film. Look fast for Sid Haig in a bit part and Lalo Schifrin provides a terrific score (almost makes me wonder if he'd scored "Star Wars" instead of John Williams).
½ September 20, 2015
Visually entreating even if the narrative is well-worn.
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2015
Mildly interesting. You can see some of the influences of this film on Star Wars. Otherwise, it is just something to check of the list to say that you saw an early George Lucas film and then just move on.
September 7, 2015
Social Commentary: The Movie
September 7, 2015
gr8 expansion of what was his grad student film also look for car with THX-1138 at malt shop in 'american graffitti'
Page 1 of 92