7 September 2014

Blu-ray Review - Futureworld (1976)


Genre:
Sci-fi,thriller
Distributor:
101 Films
BD Release Date:
18 August 2014 (UK)
Rating: PG
Director:
Richard T Heffron
Cast:
Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Yul Brynner
Buy:Futureworld [Blu-Ray]

Futureworld is the often-forgotten sequel to the cult classic Westworld. It came out 3 years later and wasn’t as well received as its predecessor, but it has some unique qualities of its own. MGM, the original studio that made Westworld, developed the film but eventually decided to concentrate on making Logan’s Run instead, so it was picked up by a much smaller company, AIP.

The film’s plot comes straight out of a post-Watergate America. Two reporters, Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and Tracey Ballard (Blythe Danner), are invited to the re-opening of Futureworld after the Westworld tragedy. Browning meets with a Delos employee who promises to give them some dirt: Delos is a corporation that owns the different parks. The employee is murdered, but is able to give Browning an envelope. The reporters decide to go to Futureworld to find out why this employee was murdered, and the conspiracy is even more sinister than they could imagine.

The film had a hilariously bad review: "starring in Futureworld must be the actor's equivalent of going on welfare." and it’s true to an extent. It’s a decidedly lower-budget film, and Peter Fonda especially tries his best with the material, which in reality is quite an interesting sci-fi conspiracy story. The rest of the cast leaves a lot to be desired, even the great Yul Brynner shows up for a frankly ridiculous cameo in a dream sequence. He was only parachuted in so that they could have the Westworld star’s name on the poster.

Despite a lot of budget problems and not quite living up the ideas and material of the film, it remains more than a ‘70s curiosity. It has more ideas and concepts than a typical cheap genre movie, and some production design to die for, partly because they used bits of the Logan’s Run set at times. It has a great set-piece of lifelike chess pieces playing a game of chess. The film also is noted for being both one of the first major films to use CGI, and also the first modern American film to be released in communist China.

★★★

Ian Schultz


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