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January 28, 2014

Movie Review: Futureworld (1976, Blu-ray)

Long before Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton built what would possibly be the foundation for the blockbuster dinosaur theme-park adventure with his robots gone awry science fiction flick, Westworld. The success of Westworld was lucrative enough to warrant a sequel directed by veteran Television movie director Richard T. Heffron (The Morning After). The sequel, Futureworld, has just been given a Blu-ray release by Shout Factory and for a 70’s sci-fi film it still stands the test of time when it comes to entertainment.

Following on the heels of a colleague’s murder, two reporters, Chuck Browning and Tracy Ballard (Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner) bring it upon themselves to do their own style of investigative reporting by poking through the massive Delos theme-park where the events of Westworld took place. 

Apparently things have changed for the better according to the operators of Futureworld, including Dr. Schneider (John Ryan, It's Alive, The Cotton Club) the main puppetmaster of the many cyborgs wandering the park. Chuck and Tracy don't seem to be getting anywhere until they meet up with one of the very few non-cyborg, employees. This helps them to gain more access to Delos but it puts a big target on their heads

One thing that's definitely cool for viewers of Futureworld is you don't really have to see Westworld to really enjoy it. Sure it's better to, but this is one of those rare occasions where you can watch it and gain just enough background on the origins of Westworld to keep yourself immersed enough Chuck and Tracy's little adventure among the artificial life surrounding them.

Yul Brynner returns briefly as “The Gunslinger”, just enough to get his name on the credits as a top-billed actor. I would love to have seen more of The Gunslinger but I suppose his short scene was appropriate to the story. As for the other actors, John Ryan does a fine job as Dr. Schneider. The late actor really has quite resume yet most people wouldn't know his name. He plays a solid villain in his role.

Shout Factory has done a nice job in restoring the picture for this Blu-ray edition. The colors were sharp and I only noticed a few instances of minor damage the film elements. The extras on the disc include some trailers for Futureworld. In the end, while it isn't as great as Westworld, Futureworld is still quite fun and fine release overall. Reccomended.

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