Futureworld (1976)
October 17, 2016 10:03 AM - Subscribe

Two years after Westworld (FanFare), the Delos corporation have reopened the park. Newspaper reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) are invited to review the newly re-opened (and expanded) park, though Chuck has an ulterior motive.

Westworld is closed, Roman World and Medieval World are back, with the additions of Future World and Spa World, where people are rejuvenated.

The sequel stars Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill, Stuart Margolin, John Ryan, and Yul Brynner, who makes a cameo appearance in a dream sequence. Other than Brynner, none of the cast members from the original film appear, and original writer-director Crichton was not involved.

Variety: Futureworld is a strong sequel to Westworld in which the rebuilt pleasure dome aims at world conquest by extending the robot technology to duplicating business and political figures.

Richard Eder, New York Times: "Futureworld" is a film about robots and, evidently, for robots. It is as much fun as running barefoot through Astroturf.

Jon Kenneth Muir - Cult Movie Review: Unlike Westworld, which moved with drive, humor and purpose, Futureworld meanders around for about an hour-and-a-half minutes, then spends the last fifteen minutes tying up loose ends. There’s almost no real tension, since Delos employees allow Browning and Ballard to look around, and the 400 robot series is programmed to ignore visitors in their midst.

TMC: Westworld (1973) was a popular, slick science fiction adventure produced at MGM and written and directed by Michael Crichton. It offered up a then-novel concept - a malfunction at a futuristic theme park that results in mass casualties of guests and park technicians alike. The movie was a box-office hit and its producer, Paul Lazarus III, developed a follow-up, although without the direct involvement of Crichton. When MGM passed on the property, Lazarus and co-producer James T. Aubrey bought the sequel rights from Crichton and brought their story to famous low-budget producer Samuel Z. Arkoff and his American International Pictures (AIP). The result was Futureworld (1976), which wisely avoided the theme-park-run-amok scenario of the first film....

Horror News (summarizing both Westworld and Futureworld): Audiences were also disappointed by Yul Brynner‘s minor cameo appearance as the gunslinger in a tacked-on dream sequence, his final film role before sadly succumbing to lung cancer. In fact, the most interesting thing about Futureworld is that it was the first major motion picture to use 3-D computer-generated imagery, for an animated hand and face. The animated left hand actually belongs to Edwin Catmull, future president of Pixar, whose experimental short film A Computer Animated Hand (1972) was utilised.

Trailer (spoilers about Westworld, if you haven't already seen or read about it, and spoils some of the surprises in Futureworld, too)
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I watched this between episodes of Westworld (FanFare), to see if the new series would pull in elements of this movie. The biggest thing is that they did away with the "fake hands" give-away and now the robots or hosts are lifelike.

While I love the jabs from Richard Eder, including "The film is rated PG. Parents are advised that there is nothing offensive in it. Offensiveness would help," I don't think it was that bad. There's an interesting idea behind the movie, but it's tangential to the core of the movie, which felt like a lot of running around behind the scenes of the parks (set in NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

That Computer Animated Hand short was really impressive! Entering all the line data via that huge plotting rig looks painstaking, but the result is pretty good. Kinda makes you wonder if they anticipated how the tech would evolve. Nowadays, you'd achieve a better-looking effect by using fewer polys and more texture work, which AFAIK just wasn't a thing back then. I also kinda dug the fly-through showing off the inverse normals inside the hand. Modern animators work so hard to conceal those!
posted by tobascodagama at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a classic example of a sequel that is professionally and competently conceived and mounted but has no investment in, understanding of, or even interest in the themes of the film it is following up.

If what you want is 90 more minutes worth of interesting stuff happening in the same location/setup, with a beginning, middle, and end, this is fine. But a person could be excused for being bored anyway, since it has nothing to say at all.

Peter Fonda giving the crossed arm finger at the end is hilariously dated. I can't even remember the last time I saw someone gave the two arms UP YOURS salute.

posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:00 PM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

The real story in Futureworld was the romance/friendship between the tech and his faceless robot companion; I spent most of the movie wishing I could watch them play more poker.

It was also worth watching for the early examples of computer animation as noted above, and the dream sequence. The rest of it... well, it happened.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 12:30 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

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