83 of 92 people found the following review helpful
A Sorely Underrated Follow-Up,
This review is from: Futureworld [VHS] (VHS Tape)
No sequel can be fairly measured against its predecessor, in my opinion. And 'Futureworld' is no exception. While it lacks Michael Crichton's pen - known for deftly interweaving between sci-fi and suspense - 'Futureworld' actually goes so far as to expand upon the original story, which is something few sequels, even good ones, have been able to do. While the production values do seem to indicate the studio was willing to crap this one out as a TV movie if they thought it wouldn't float their boat at the box office, there's still plenty of shock value to enjoy in 'Futureworld', even if its plot does tend to veer now and then into slightly-cartoonish realms...and even then, the film isn't afraid to remind its viewer that it's not to be taken too seriously.
The plot is as follows: it's been a couple of years since the original film's theme-park disaster - a situation not helped by the dirt dug up by investigative reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda, smug and cocky as Han Solo, only in corduroys and specs) - but Delos is back up and running, better than ever, and the world entire is coming en masse through the new park's gates. But still, the Delos suits regale to Browning's media peers, attendance isn't quite as record-shattering as they'd like...so they invite a wary Browning and his ex-girlfriend, ambitious TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner, who gives as good as she gets with a flair worthy of Lois Lane), to see for themselves that Delos has truly become the Eden it was meant to be.
Alas, with this new Eden there turns out to be a new snake lurking as well...namely, suspicious goings-on within the underground command centers of the park. Surrounding this is a bizarre tapestry of puzzle pieces - a runaway Delos worker shot dead in Browning's arms; an all-too-real nightmare of red-garbed figures carting off guests in their sleep and performing Byzantine examinations; a reclusive mechanic (Stuart Margolin in a likeable performance) who's seen more than he probably should have; and before it's all over, the horrible secret of the new Delos revealed. It's no 'Soylent Green', but then that's probably a good thing.
If 'Westworld' dealt with the dangers of relying upon corporated technology for pleasure, then 'Futureworld' is about what happens when said corporated technology threatens to overtake entire societies. While this isn't exactly prescient to the competitiveness of today's theme-park industry, it does allude to the rat-a-tat-a-tat attitude that defined much of the industry in the early 1990s (when Universal Studios moved in on Disney World and lit the fuse on a full-blown theme-park war).
Apart from all this, the movie does have some other nifty touches: an opening sequence which winks at the original with a clip from a game show of a future Delos guest receiving his vacation package from real-life game show host Allen Ludden; the new 'Futureworld' themed area with one of the neatest (if slightly low-budget) arcades ever seen; constant innuendo involving 'sex-model' robots; and, of course, a cameo by none other than Yul Brynner, once more garbed in black as the Gunslinger - only this time the tin man with the gunbelt seems to have gotten a heart, demonstrated in an erotic dream sequence where he rescues Danner's character from some more of those red-hooded fiends.
'Futureworld' may not resemble 'Westworld' too much, but that probably works to its advantage in the end, opting to take the somewhat-hackneyed 'robots-run-amok' premise in a new direction. It's worth a look.
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Initial post: Oct 29, 2014, 9:54:56 AM PDT
Darrick Dishaw says:
Great review/synopsis! Thanks.
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