A Film Rumination: Futureworld, Richard T. Heffron (1976)

5/10 (Average — worth watching if you like the genre)

Futureworld is the sequel to the equally campy Westworld.  The chemistry between the main characters (played by Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner) is actually above average and probably saves the film from utter failure.  However, I enjoyed myself despite the predictability, the absolutely silly premise, the lack of action (there’s a sword fight and that’s about it) and the anti-climactic ending.

If a sci-fi film doesn’t have frequent action sequences and beautiful spaceships it MUST ask some engaging questions, present moral dilemmas, ponder on philosophical themes, etc  — Futureworld, on the other hand “thinks” with the “brain” of a rather small and sickly ant.  And what an unfortunate last film appearance for Yul Brynner (a campy dream sequence with Blythe Danner)…

Plot (some spoilers due to the simplicity and predictability of the plot)

Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda), a reporter who wrote about the “incident” at Westworld, and TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner), are called to write about the newly “improved” Delos amusement part which has reopened.  Previously Browning had met with an employee of Delos who promised information about the new park.  However, he’s killed before he can deliver it.  As a result, Browning is suspicious of the motives of Delos.  Tracy on the other hand is convinced that Browning is blowing everything out of proportion.  Our “heroes” are guided through various worlds — Medievalworld, Romanworld, Westernworld (since abandoned), and finally, the park chosen by Tacy and Chuck, Futureworld (the one I would select!) — and all the wonders are shown to be safe and improved.

In Futureworld, patrons are “sent up into space” in a rocket to a space station and perform various space walks and skiing on mars etc.  It’s revealed to our heros that most of the new theme park worlds are staffed entirely by robots.

When Tracy and Chuck return from Futureworld they are drugged and tests are run on them in order to produce clones (surprise!!!!).  In the only real action sequence of the film, Chuck and Tracy accidentally trigger the clone machine which produces some wimpy samurais.  They are rescued by a friendly mechanic (one of the last non-robots) who has a faceless robot pall whom he plays card games with.  Eventually our heros figure out that all the important diplomats and generals asked by Delos to visit the reopening of the park are really going to be cloned in a plan to take over the world.

Final thoughts

In short, don’t expect anything unexpected.  Don’t expect any revolutionary sci-fi elements (I did discover that this as the first feature film to use 3D CGI!).  Don’t expect particularly good acting.  Oh, and watch for the campy dream sequence — it has absolutely no plot value and apparently, Blythe Danner trotting around with Yul Brynner was a fantasy that many women had at this time….  I dunno.

However, this is a really fun film which commits all the sins of B-film sci-fi.  It might be better than Westworld…  But, that’s not saying much.  The strange (dare I say perverse) pleasure I derive from watching this sort of tripe is worrisome…

12 thoughts on “A Film Rumination: Futureworld, Richard T. Heffron (1976)

  1. Ah… the sorrow inspired by last film appearences. My mind goes to Peter Seller’s last film: the Fiedish Plot of Dr. Fu Man Chu. If only he had held off a bit longer, his last film would have been Being Their.

    I must admit, I’ve always wondered what Future World was like. I can’t say I thought Westworld was all that great, but curiosity abounded.

    Now, I guess I know.

  2. what about a Mexican/Chinese “pastry” — tongue curdling sweet, plastered with vibrantly artificial colors, bleached white flour, and plasticy aftertaste… oh, and remotely edible.

  3. Watchable is the word — I did have fun though. (I didn’t realize that Blythe Danner was Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother and was constantly confused why she seemed so familiar — they have similar mannerisms)

  4. Yul Brynner – hot. Yul Brynner as an out-of-control robot – not so hot. Mind you, I’ve not even seen ‘Westworld’ – IIRC, that’s that one of Michael Crichton’s early works?

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