The original Michael Crichton effort is something of a seminal sci-fi film of that decade, but Richard T. Heffron‘s is often forgotten, even if it’s not bad.
Both take place at the high-tech amusement park Delos, which specializes in fulfilling adults’ fantasies, planting them in Western, Roman and medieval scenarios. This one picks up after the catastrophic events of the first one, when things went “worng” (as the poster famously put it), and the park’s robotic attractions turned on the attendees, killing 50 of them.
Now, an undaunted Delos Corporation has spent $1.5 billion on a “fail-safe” upgrade, down to every circuit, and even added a Mars attraction. In order to clean up their public image, execs promise an exclusive to select journalists in exchange for a preview and “fair and positive coverage.”
Among the chosen few are the ever-skeptical newspaper reporter Chuck (Peter Fonda) and TV host Tracy (Blythe Danner). Pretty quickly, as others enjoy skiing on Mars and sex with robots, Chuck and Tracy uncover a conspiracy they hope to thwart.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Danner scantily clad and dancing in slow motion with Yul Brynner, this is your movie. Returning as “Westworld”‘s iconic robot gunslinger, Brynner has one whole scene in the film, infiltrating Tracy’s dream. It feels like a distraction and contractual obligation, shoehorned in as it is.
“Futureworld” generates a fair amount of goodwill before hitting a last-half snag that seems as if it ran out of story to tell, making for a too-extended end. This wasn’t the final stop for the franchise, as a TV series followed a few years later, albeit for a whole five episodes, a few of which never aired. A remake is rumored for 2012, and certainly the material is ripe; until then, take this manufactured-on-demand MGM Limited Edition Collection disc for a spin. —Rod Lott