With going through the numerous anime from last season that I watched, I have ended up being somewhat behind in my other horror film reviews for the year. So, I need to make up for lost time – with Futureworld, the sequel to a horror film I watched a couple of years ago, Westworld.
Futureworld, much like Westworld, misses a lot of the potential from the premise, though it goes in a direction that I would say that the HBO series has not as yet. The premise is that we are several years after the disaster of the first film. Delos has rebuilt, redesigned the robots, and is re-opening the park, and is looking for a group of VIPs and journalists to come in and see how wonderful and perfectly safe the park is.
In this case, the twist isn’t that the robots are going to start going on a murder rampage again, as much as the twist is that the robots are more quietly and subtly murdering people this time – and replacing them with robot duplicates who look, act, and think like the originals, with the difference that they will speak favorably of Delos so it will remain profitable – with a side of “If humanity blows up the Earth there won’t be anyone to go to Delos, so take control of world governments and steer humanity on a better path.”
As executed in the film, this is clumsy, somewhat hamhanded, and half baked. Some of the cast helps make it work – Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner play two reporters sent to cover the park’s reopening, and they have tremendous chemistry together, and they also do a great job when their inevitable robot duplicates come up.
However, the rest of the cast is kind of mediocre, and this isn’t helped by the fact that the re-designed sets for behind the scenes at Delos are basically a bunch of factories they rented out for location shooting, instead of the built sets from Westworld. The titular Futureworld isn’t helped by feeling like AIP had grabbed a bunch of sets from a 2001: A Space Odyssey knockoff.
The “Martian skiing” sequences are particularly egregious, looking like the studio dressed a couple of stuntmen up in spacesuits, sent them to Mt. Shasta, and had Second Unit film them skiing while using a red filter. On top of that, they get Yul Brenner to return as the gunslinger – but they could clearly only afford him for a couple of days of shooting, so he’s shoved in through a dream sequence that doesn’t even remotely fit into the film’s plot.
Much as HBO’s Westworld did a great job of taking the original premise of Westworld and actually exploring the concept, the concept of Futureworld could fit into that concept well if HBO gets to that point. If they do, I think they could do something really interesting with it. God knows AIP didn’t.
If you want to check out this film, Futureworld is currently available for streaming to Amazon Prime members – and that’s probably the only way I’d recommend watching this turkey of a film. If you aren’t already an Amazon Prime member, if you click this link to subscribe then I get a commission.
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