First Time Watch: Futureworld (1976)


By Christian DiMartino

Futureworld is a film ahead of its time. Oh, that’s not to give it credit. What I mean is, the film was made in 1976 (a year before Star Wars and eight years after 2001: A Space Odyssey), and, I guess, the studio didn’t have enough money to do anything cool with “Futureworld,” so, they didn’t do… well, anything, with Futureworld. Oh, besides tease us and waste our time.

The original Westworld film, directed by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), and even the mostly excellent HBO series Westworld, displayed that there were other parks at the Delos corporation besides “Westworld,” such as Ancient Greece World and yada yada. Futureworld acknowledges this, but the film places all of its chips on “Futureworld.” What is there to do in Futureworld? Well, you can get on a… space ship simulator… and… you can play holographic chess. Okay, you mean to tell me that people pay millions of dollars and travel across the world to do this?  Haven’t you people heard of Epcot?

Westworld the movie was fun. A little dated in the visual department, but for its time unique and engaging, with a cool premise. Futureworld exists purely to be a sequel to Westworld. It doesn’t have much in the way of new content, nor is it particularly interesting. Not to mention, again, Futureworld is pretty lame. It’s Futureworld! Imagine the opportunities they could’ve had, the fun the filmmakers could’ve had, the fun we could’ve had. Nope. Nuh-uh. We’d rather watch Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda (no disrespect to either) bicker and report.

Yeah, so, that’s pretty much the premise, but I guess I’ll add a bit more. Danner and Fonda are two rival journalists who hate each other but also have the hots for one another (he also calls her “Socks” for some reason). The film follows the events of the first film, in which a robot gunslinger (Yul Brynner, who returns here in a bizarre dance dream sequence) grew a conscience and decided to wreak havoc across Westworld. Danner and Fonda travel to the Delos corporation to report on the new park, Futureworld (gee, the people at home are in for quite a thrill), and they also try to uncover the secrets of Delos. Something about them cloning people, I don’t know.

What I do know is that Futureworld is an unfortunate bust, with a plot that isn’t involving, and a story that isn’t worth telling. It just mostly serves as a reminder of how much better Westworld was. Futureworld is a thing of the past, and unfortunately a bit of a dud. Kind of like that total tease of a park.

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