Monday, December 12, 2016

Now That You've Seen Westworld, Let's Watch Futureworld

Futureworld (1976), the sequel to the original Westworld (1973), takes place a couple years after the PR nightmare for the Delos Corporation that was the first movie.  The resort has been reopened with a new park set in the future, Westworld has been abandoned and all the robots decommissioned.  Blythe Danner, who you may recognize as Gwyneth’s mom stars as plucky investigative reporter Tracy Ballard, along with hard nosed news hound Chuck Browning, as portrayed by 60’s icon Peter Fonda.  Yul Brynner reprises his role as The Gunslinger, now in space (not really, he appears in a dream sequence) in what was sadly to be his second to last film appearance.
More like a TV movie or an extended episode of The Night Stalker, Futureworld is a slice of vintage 70’s cheese set in an alternate history.  There are still typewriters, cathode ray televisions and landlines but also, y’know, incredibly lifelike robots you can have sex with.  This concept is addressed more explicitly in the sequel, reflecting the relaxed era of the 70’s but also ironically incorporating James Bond-levels of cringey and outdated sexism.
In Futureworld guests can visit a moon base and ski the Martian mountains, but Blythe and Peter spend their vacation uncovering the Delos plot to replace everyone with robots.  It seems the Delos Corporation decided it would be best if the robots ran the park, to eliminate the human error of the first movie, and well, you know what sentient robots like to do when they’re left in charge…
There are a lot of pantsuits in the future and the park only costs $1200 a day, which seems low even for 1976 when you could buy a new car for $3000.  However Blythe and Peter get chased by some Samurai robots from Eastworld (a movie I’d like to see), one of the intriguing hints of the far superior HBO series.  The fear of being replaced is a universal horror and robots are a science fiction standard, but the movie was overshadowed by the more visionary Logan’s Run (1976, released a month earlier) and Star Wars (1977) was just around the corner.
Watch out for veteran TV actor John Fujioka as Mr. Takaguchi, a visitor to Medieval World, who you may remember from classic 70’s shows like Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Baretta, Hawaii Five-0, Kung Fu and MASH.  Futureworld is worth watching if you like that decade or want to marvel at how much Gwyneth looks like her mother, but to be honest you’d have more fun watching Season One of the remake one more time. 

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).