FUTUREWORLD Blu-ray Review

     April 10, 2013

futureworld-blu-ray-slice

In 1973, Michael Crichton wrote and directed Westworlda sci-fi classic that went on to influence The Terminator, Crichton’s own Jurassic Park and one of the best episodes of The Simpsons.  A few years later TV creators Richard T. Heffron, Mayo Simon, and George Schenck made a sequel that remains mostly forgotten.

Futureworld does attempt to take the Westworld concept in an interesting direction.  Had it worked, it’s not hard to envision a world in which the Westworld saga became a series of increasingly bizarre chapters ala Planet of the Apes.  The ingredients are there.  Cool robots, counter culture undertones and the awesome camp inherent in 1970s theme park design.  Unfortunately, despite some lofty goals, Futureworld is kind of a slog.  Hit the jump for our review of Futureworld on Blu-ray.

futureworldTwo years after Yul Brynner and his robot buddies went awesomely apeshit, the Delos corporation has reopened their park.  This time everything is super-100% disaster proof and there is totally no way that robots can run amok again because they replaced the human staff with new, even smarter robots because that is obviously a plan that will work.  Surprisingly, it totally does.  Ten minutes into the movie, it looks like this is going to be a rehash of Westworld and to Futureworld’s credit, it takes thing in a very different direction.  Less to its credit, that direction is super dull and pretty poorly executed.

Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner are reporters who, along with a hand-picked group of world leaders, are invited to preview the now-totally-100%-safe Delos Amusement Park.  Fonda, an old school, facts-first newspaperman, stomps around in a cranky, pandering, bored-sounding funk,  while Danner’s young, go getter of a TV reporter wears a gentle, accommodating smile.  The fact that they used to sleep together is just the tip of Futureworld’s quaint, infuriating gender politics as Fonda take every opportunity to behave like a smarmy, pandering jackass.

futureworld-blu-rayThere is some fun misdirection at play; one character sneaks a camera into the park, there is some business involving another character’s antique sword and it really feels like they’re setting up round two robot rampage. But these all turn out to be red herrings.  Delos is secretly making android copies of its powerful guests, with the intention of sending them out into the world to recommend the park to their powerful friends so that they visit the park and then Delos takes over the world.

There’s a  nugget of a fun idea there, with corporate interests literally stealing political power but Futureworld isn’t really interested in fun.  It’s almost as if the filmmakers saw The China Syndrome and felt the need to make a similarly serious expose about the dangers of theme-park robot identity theft.  There are like ten scenes in the entire movie and each lasts waaaay beyond its expiration date.  It feels like half the movie is composed of characters walking slowly past dank pipes.

It amounts to a huge missed opportunity.  There are moments that hint at a minor camp classic and I kept hoping that it would devolve into a Zardoz style bit of psychedelic fun.  Things seemed especially promising during Yul Brynner’s cameo.  He shows up for one scene in which he slow dances and makes love to Blythe Danner in a totally white room.  It is both sillier and more awesome in practice than it sounds and those are both adjectives Futureworld could have stood to have more of.

Special Features

A trailer, some radio ads and still pictures.

Final Thoughts

With a few exceptions Futureworld eschews the fun of Westworld in favor of bland misogyny, misguided attempts at humor, an over serious tone and one of the dorkiest endings I can think of.

Final Grade: C-

Around The Web

Latest News

George Miller’s Abandoned JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie Getting the Documentary Treatment

Australian filmmaker Ryan Unicomb will direct a documentary exploring the DC Universe that might have been.

Director Gil Kenan Talks POLTERGEIST, Why he Made the Film, and Future Projects

Plus, Kenan talks about knowing he'd face criticism no matter how good the film ended up.

JURASSIC WORLD: New Featurette Welcomes You to the Park with Tons of New Footage

"To see 'Jurassic World' come to life is like seeing 'Jurassic Park' come true."

Cary Fukunaga Will Not Direct Stephen King’s IT for New Line

Reasons ranging from the poor box office take of 'Poltergeist' to plain old budget cuts have been cited.

3 New ANT-MAN Images Size up Paul Rudd, Michael Doulgas, and Evangeline Lilly

Marvel’s next film is less than two months away.

9 Movies You Forgot Were Scored by Hans Zimmer

One of the best composers of our time has a resume that's both extensive and versatile, ranging from 'Cool Runnings' to 'Mission: Impossible 2'.

FANTASTIC FOUR International Trailer Brings New Footage; Josh Trank Denies Reshoot Rumors

The director takes to social media to debunk troubled word on the upcoming blockbuster.

More THE MARTIAN Images Feature Matt Damon Surviving Ridley Scott’s Red Planet

The upcoming film also stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, and Jeff Daniels.

DHEEPAN Review | Cannes 2015

Jacques Audiard's latest film won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Bad Weekend: The Last 10 Memorial Day Movies, Ranked

It turns out most Memorial Day movies aren’t very good.

Page 1 of 3,96412345...102030...Last »