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Soylent Green movie review (is the story plausible today?)


I finally got the chance to watch this.

Soylent Green is a movie made 2 years before I was even born, so I could not have watched this when it was first released, obviously.

The first time I even heard the phrase "solylent green" was on Saturday Night Live. It was a skit where Phil Hartman would just run in periodically and yell out the catch phrase the movie is known for. (I can't say the phrase here because it would spoil the movie if you've not seen it.) The guy did a damned good Charlton Heston impersonation.

Now oddly enough, soylent does exist for real. It's meant to be a meal replacement and can be had in liquid or powder form to make the liquid. I find this to be disturbing to say the least.

One of the opening scenes of the movie is shown above.

THE YEAR: 2022
THE POPULATION: 40,000,000

At the time I write this, 2022 is - get ready for this - just 6 years away.

You will be happy to know that NYC's population is nowhere near 40 million. And I seriously doubt the population would spike up that high in just 6 years.

Does the movie hold up today?

No. It looks and feels old. Remember, this is pre-Star Wars science fiction, a time when sci-fi movies were just bad. As in Logan's Run bad.

But let's forget all that for a moment.

Is the story, or at least the story told in the movie, plausible?

I don't think so.

The film is, rather loosely, based off the 1966 book Make Room! Make Room!, and because of that you really can't say, "The book is better than the movie" since the film really doesn't follow the book story.

In other words, Soylent Green is its own story as a standalone film.

My take on the flick is that the story is about the damning effects of overpopulation. But I don't think the way the story was told really works.

I simply can't buy the idea that NYC would be able to operate with 40 million residents in it. To think that many people could be crammed inside 469 square miles is just something I cannot wrap my mind around.

If you watch this movie (or watch it again,) ask yourself this question: How in the hell could New York City staff or even afford a police force capable of handling 40 million residents? How would that even be possible? That's the kind of stuff going through my head while watching Soylent Green. It's like a big FORTY MILLION PEOPLE is flashing like a loud neon sign in my mind during the whole movie, and I just can't forget it long enough to enjoy what's going on.

The way the film explains how NYC can operate with that many people is that everything has been cut down to the bare minimum of what humans need to survive. Since the population is so high, food supply is affected negatively, so the solution is to have one big-ass corporation, Soylent, produce a food-like substance that everyone can afford, even if just barely. Other things like water are in short supply, as are simple things we take for granted such as soap and even forks and knives.

While the movie is a fun watch for what it is, the story isn't believable.

Did I like the movie? Actually, yes, I did just for the art of it. It has that gritty, milky '70s film look to it where some scenes are way too dark and others lit way too bright. The pacing is weird, the audio echoes too much in some spots and is compressed to hell in others. The whole movie is Old Hollywood and filled with the stuff they could get away with back then.

On a final note, if Soylent Green isn't your thing but you like a '70s cop thriller/drama movie, see Serpico. It was released the same year, 1973. It's not sci-fi at all, but wow, what a movie. Same gritty look, but way better story that keeps you in the pocket from beginning until end.

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