2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A very nice looking Blu-ray, Shout Factory takes us back to the place where nothing can go worng...,
This review is from: Futureworld [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Michael Crichton's "Westworld" was a surprise gamble for a studio that was on wobbly legs at the time. So, naturally, because it was a hit, the film demanded a sequel. A solid mystery science fiction film written by Mayo Simon (Phase IVand directed by TV veteran Richard T. Hefron (North & South: The Complete Collection, "Futureworld" benefits from a good cast and a cameo by actor Yul Brynner reprising his role as The Gunslinger from the first film.
Set a few years after the disaster at the Delos adult amusement part, "Futureworld" follows two rival reporters Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner)who are invited to do a story on the revived amusement part as part of a publicity campaign to jump start business for the Delos organization. Delos has added a new theme park Futureworld that both Browning and Ballard are scheduled to visit.
Browning, however, has a source working at Delos who indicates that something has gone wrong again at Delos but, before Browning can find out what Frenchy knows, his source is killed. Browning needs to discover what Frenchy had before those at Delos (Arthur Hill and John Ryan)discover what he is up to.
The Blu-ray from Shout! Factory does a nice job of bringing this 1976 film to Blu-ray. Although not quite as sharp as the recent Warner reissue of Westworld [Blu-ray], the film looks quite good. There is some evident print damage sprinkled throughout the film that could have been easily repaired and it's clear that Shout! Factory either didn't have the money or used the existing transfer prepared for the DVD on Demand that MGM issued last year (and German Blu-ray of 2011).
The textures are quite nice and the colors look quite decent. The Blu-ray is an upgrade compared on the DVD-R that MGM issued last year although it isn't quite as night and day as some titles. We get an English 2.0 lossless soundtrack with English subtitles (an advantage over the German edition which had a 16 bit audio transfer as I recall). The soundtrack is quite good--dialogue is crisp and clear for the most part. We get English subtitles.
This edition is region A locked.
Amazon lists that there aren't any special features and that isn't quite accurate. While "Futureworld" doesn't have the vintage featurettes that "Westworld" provided, it does have a stills gallery (there are also some storyboards included) and the original radio vintage radio advertisements included along side the original film trailer.
As those who have the German edition know, that edition had a NASA "Science Fact vs. Fiction" featurette which should have been included here. There was also a 45 minute 8 mm version of "Futureworld" included on the German edition as an extra. That was a curious extra but kind of interesting and might have been nice to include here but probably wasn't due to rights or cost issues.
It would have been nice if someone like Fonda or Danner had been contacted to provide a commentary track or interviews about the making of the film. It's a missed opportunity.
Although certainly elements of the film have aged (it does take place in 1985 which was nearly a decade away when the film was made and does an extension of the technology of the time), the film remains entertaining.
For me "Futureworld" isn't quite as engaging as "Westworld" where the story was as much about investigating the theme park as it was about how things go awry for our heroes in that film. Nevertheless, Simon's story would have made an interesting and fun science fiction mystery without the trappings of the Delos universe added to it. The script by Simon written with George Schenck (who would later write and co-produce the TV show "NCIS")uses a pretty common story idea grafting it on to the Delos universe created by writer-director-producer Michael Crichton for his first film pretty effectively (and further mined for a short lived TV serires "Beyond Westworld" which, beyond the basic premises, has little to do with either film).
While missing both the social satire and critique at the the heart of Michael Crichton's film "Westworld", "Futureworld" still manages to be entertaining and fans who saw the film when it was first released in 1976 or on TV aftewards will enjoy this release.