Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button

Feature


Futureworld is the 1976 sequel to the 1973 science fiction film Westworld. Two years after the tragic events at robotic entertainment park Westworld, The Delos Corporation owners have reopened the park following $1.5 billion in safety improvements and an increase in the park’s attractions. For publicity purposes, newspaper reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) are invited to review the park but when Chuck receives inside information that all might not be right with the new park, his inquisitive mind soon uncovers a new dark secret hidden within The Delos Corporation.

 Futureworld
For starters I have to admit I had zero clue there was a sequel to Westworld. I mean, I love Westworld, mostly from childhood viewings with my dad but it hasn’t exactly been on my radar for a good decade or so, so I'd never really contenplated there was a sequel. With that said, I'm still sort of shocked that I was oblivious to Futureworld existing. When I recently saw the cover art with Yul Brynner all Gunsligered up, I put two and two together and by blind luck a review copy arrived on my doormat a week or so later and I was very happy to return to the world of adult themed robot theme parks.

You've got to love the 70s. I mean, they make a movie based in the near future with a theme park with full working robots (the original was written and directed by Michael Crichton by the way - he loves his theme parks), this park has themes of old such as Romans and Cowboys and it’s awesome but it seems the main selling point is that you can have sex with the robots here if you like. They're cool about it. Come along, have some innocent sex with a robot or two. None of this is really explored beyond giving the film an excuse for a bit of titillation and same can be said for Futureworld itself as it turns out this sequel is less about action and scares and more about discussions and running away. This sequels falls very short of the original’s boldness and outright enjoyment.

Basically, and of course beware spoilers for this 30+ year old movie, this new park now has robots controlling robots and they've decided that replacing people is the best way to save the planet. The 1.5 Billion dollar theme park is an expensive cover and basically the end game is to replace world leaders with all new robot copies and sort the planet out. Of course Peter Fonda is having none of this.

 Futureworld
Unfortunately for this sequel we spend next to no time in any of the themed locations. No real time among the pleasures of the park beyond a brief scoot around the Mars themed area and its distracting attractions. Instead we spend our time in apartments, control rooms and the behind the scenes under the park locations. This makes for some boring unravelling of the plot. Sure there are some cloned Samurai and a busted up robot with no face called Clark after Superman but none of these elements really amount to much. This sequel, essentially just becomes another spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the two reporters copied and set to be replaced for the good of Delos’s masterplan.

When all is wrapped up, Futureworld seems a bit of a wasted opportunity. In a movie that could have delved into the many exciting aspects of the park, it goes somewhere else and somewhere needlessly bigger in scope really.  It’s still enjoyable, despite the lack of any real events, it still plays with technology in fun ways, though most of it rings out as nonsense and it’s ending, that has our lead actor flick a killer middle finger to our main villain (who doesn’t actually do much villaining) is sort of epic in its awesomeness. Sadly at the same time, that middle finger is sort of what this sequel felt like it did to the audience who expected more Westworld fun. I mean come on, Yul Brynner is only in the film in an lame erotic dream/fantasy (and for no real reason really) and plays no part in the actual plot. This really is a sequel that dropped the ball. Hopefully the upcoming HBO series of Westworld can fix all that.

 Futureworld

Video


The image has an okay looking upgrade in terms of colour and elements of detail but it has to be noted that the presentation here has a fair bit of dirt and damage flicking about at times. Edges are always soft and the general softer 70s look of this low budget, largely unloved sequel can't really impress outside of scenes with good lighting. Everything sort of just about looks mildly high definition while always looking a little bland.

Having never seen Futureworld I can really only guess at what this HD upgrade is offering in terms of improvements on previous releases but the image certainly looks sharper than most DVDs even if it does suffer from some of the formats other restrictions such as slightly off black levels and an unavoidable softness given the source and budget to remaster. It also doesn't look too great in the handful of darker scenes.

External scenes hold up much better with a brighter colour presentation and noticeably sharper edges as do some of the control room scenes that are under generally brighter lighting. These minimal scenes show off the best the transfer has to offer in terms of sharper edges and boosted colour levels but everything else is a little soft and fuzzy.

 Futureworld

Audio


The stereo track has some clear dialogue and a score that sits well in the mix. Unfortunately theres not a great deal of range going on here and the film feels more akin to a late 70/early 80s TV show, as a lot of sci-fi from the time tended to I suppose. There's a slight sense of sound layers going on with beeping consoles feeling separate from talking operatives but the score can sometimes feel a little lost in the busier scenes and it sometimes barely registers until sound effects drop out a bit.

 Futureworld

Extras


Futureworld is the sort of title that could provide a good trip down failed memory lane but no, there's nothing here.

 Futureworld

Overall


I honestly thought my days of discovering iffy sequels to films was over, so it was a joy to find out Futureworld was a not much spoken about sequel to Westworld. It’s not a great film when all is said and done but I enjoyed seeing where Westworld went next and delving into the corporation behind the park a little bit, even if it wasn’t all that easy to swallow and I wasn’t all that convincing this was what a Westworld sequel needed by the end.

The disc is okay looking and has a pretty timid audio track, also there’s also no extras so this one really might be for just for fans (or those like me who would find the prospect of a Westworld sequel interesting).


Links: