Release Date: June 28th, 1976
Directed by: Richard T. Heffron
Written by: Mayo Simon, George Schenck
Music by: Fred Karlin
Cast: Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill, Stuart Margolin, John Ryan, Yul Brynner
Aubrey Company/Paul N. Lazarus III, American International Pictures, 107 Minutes
I had never seen Futureworld until now. I had always heard that it was a poor sequel to Westworld but I didn’t interpret it that way at all. While it is an extension of its predecessor and shares some ideas and plot points, it feels like its own movie.
It stars Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner, two reporters who go to the Delos Corporation’s re-opened theme park a few years after the tragedy that took place in Westworld. They are there to see if everything is on the up-and-up. Yul Brynner reprises his role as the gunslinging killer android from the previous film. However, Brynner only appears in a bizarre fantasy dream sequence. The inclusion of the Brynner character was pretty pointless.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this picture. It stood out as its own story and didn’t try to just rehash what we saw in Westworld. To be honest, it was a better story. Sure, it was missing the iconic gunslinger with his cold stare and dead android eyes but it had killer android doppelgängers. After the reveal of the Delos Corporation’s sinister plan, you never really knew who might already be a killer android. I feel like they could and should have done a lot more with this major plot development but they utilized it pretty minimally. There was a big opportunity to create some serious tech paranoia but things never really went that far.
Peter Fonda was better than decent as the lead. He looked like he was having fun but he didn’t bring anything unique or exceptional to the role. Blythe Danner is always a pleasant sight but any cute starlet could have played her part just as effectively.
The direction wasn’t fantastic either. It also wasn’t bad. But that’s kind of what this movie was for the most part. It was a straightforward and somewhat mediocre mid 70s sci-fi thriller but it had an air of coolness about it. I think that was mostly due to the sets and the imagination that went into a lot of the tech stuff in the picture. And again, I do enjoy this movie.
Had this been a rehash of the original film, it would’ve been a total dud. The fact that it reached far outside of its own box, is what makes it worth people’s time. I get that people don’t seem to hold this in the same regard as Westworld, but I think they are good companion pieces to one another.