Movies

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• LOGAN'S RUN starts out rather unpromisingly as a futuristic melodrama that is all hardware and no soul. But it gradually improves in both plot and character until, at the end, it actually has something meaningful say. Michael York stars as Logan, a "sandman" in a 23rd Century domed city which has become the ultimate welfare state. Babies are born in test tubes, and everyone's material needs are taken care of by machines run on tidal energy, leaving people free to be lifelong hedonists. But no one is allowed to live past the age of 30. As a "sandman," Logan's job is to track down and execute "runners" trying to escape their approaching end. Eventually, when too many people have successfully fled the city, York is ordered to become a "runner" himself and find out where the escapees have vanished. Instead, with the help of his new girl friend Jessica (Jenny Agutter), he actually does escape, and the two find themselves in an abandoned "outdoor" city. It is Washington, D.C., deserted centuries ago after a catastrophic war, and now decaying slowly into wilderness (an idea which, under different circumstances, would warm the heart of every libertarian). Knowing nothing of this strange world, Logan and Jessica must discover anew the possibility of creating a life for themselves outside the dome, and experiencing the freedom to grow old. Peter Ustinov, in a supporting role as the eccentric and sympathetic "old man," has the best part in the picture. Production values are superior: the interior of the domed city is suitably flashy, though the atmosphere often seems reminiscent of a modern airport terminal. The most striking special effect is created by the use of moving holograms during Logan's recapture and interrogation. Though not a classic, Logan's Run is superior to most science fiction movies of recent years. Rated "PG."

• The concept behind the World War II spectacular, MIDWAY, seems to be the kind of thinking that suggests that if you take a Chevrolet and load it up with every conceivable option, you may wind up with a Cadillac. Midway misses the mark as the Cadillac of war moviesâ€"pedestrian scripting and characterization see to thatâ€"but in terms of sheer physical production, it is the most ambitious attempt yet to simulate the experience of war. Studio footage is expertly intercut with actual color movies taken during the battle by both American and Japanese participants. Planes are blown apart as anti-aircraft guns pound away from the decks of carriers. Huge ships are reduced to flaming rubble by bombs and torpedoes. Universal's "Sensurround" system, used so successfully in Earthquake, creates a realistic concussion effect to accompany the spectacular bombing scenes. The all-star cast, led by Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda and Toshiro Mifune, performs in a businesslike but uninvolving manner. Declining to make any ideological points, the film treats the battle much like a high-stakes chess game, with the emphasis on overall strategy, and with the outcome decisively influenced by factors (such as weather) which neither side can control. Viewed from this perspective, the battle becomes somewhat of an impersonal affair, with the deadly game more important than the players. But what Midway lacks in human drama, it makes up in spectacle. Rated "PG."

• Walt Disney Studios has released two new movies for the summer trade, and each will probably appeal to different segments of the "family" audience. Gus is an amusing potboiler about a mule who is signed up for a California pro football team, after he demonstrates an uncanny ability to kick 100-yard field goals. Edward Asner, Don Knotts, Liberty Williams and Tim Conway star in this plethora of sight gags that will appeal to the kids, but may become a bit tedious for the grownups. Treasure of Matecumbe, however, is the best Disney adventure in years, with a literate and sometimes witty script, and a continuous series of hair-raising escapades. Johnny Doran and Billy Attmore star as two boys on their way to Florida just after the Civil War in search of buried treasure. Along the way, they receive the unlikely aid of Joan Hackett, Robert Foxworth and Peter Ustinov. Vic Morrow is as evil a villain as can be found in a Disney movie. Much of the location photography is spectacular. Rated "G."