Futureworld (1976)

futureworld poster 1976 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

The Gunslinger shows up...sort of

Doesn't live up to Westworld

Movie Info

Movie Name: Futureworld

Studio: The Aubrey Company

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): August 13, 1976

MPAA Rating: PG

futureworld boxing game blythe danner peter fonda

We shall call it… “Punch Out”

Delos has decided to reopen its controversial theme park after the destruction and death caused by the breakdown at the park.  Reporters Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) have been invited with a delegation of leaders and reporters to show off the new park including the Western World replacement Future World.  Something is brewing in Delos, and Chuck and Tracy must uncover it before it is too late.

Directed by Richard T. Heffron, Futureworld is a science-fiction thriller.  The movie is a follow-up to Michael Crichton’s Westworld from 1973 and received mixed reviews from critics but became the first modern American film to receive a regular released in China.

Westworld was a creative film that was ahead of its time.  The idea of a simulated (almost video game) world where people live out fantasies with robots was cutting edge (along with some of its computerized special effects).  A sequel seemed like a natural…but the story really doesn’t develop.

futureworld 1976 blythe danner dream reader sequence

I wonder what she’s dreaming of?

Westworld had a lot of high concept ideas and Futureworld has some of those themes carried over, but essentially comes out as a big Stepford Wives storyline (but The Stepford Wives did it better).  The movie’s pacing and storytelling is tedious and “action” sequences really are so mundane that it doesn’t spice it up.  Even the “tense” ending sequence feels cliché and not surprising in any means.

Both Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda have done better.  Their characters are rather paper thin (Fonda the dedicated newsman and Danner the TV reporter wooed by the visuals).  I like Stuart Margolin but he is added too late to the plot (and I don’t see why he would be allowed to continue to operate in the park as long as he did).  The movie features the last film appearance by Yul Brynner who reprises his role as the Gunslinger for a bizarre dream cameo sequence with Danner (as her fantasy man)…it is as weird as it sounds.

futureworld gunslinger dream sequence dance yul brynner blythe danner

…I had to ask

Futureworld was damned from the start on visuals.  Sci-Fi movies date quickly and Futureworld has the same problem.  Unlike Westworld which was set in the past world, Futureworld is supposed to look high tech and edgy.  None of that is true at this point if you go back and watch the film now, but I think even in 1976, it would have been a push (on a side note, they used a set from Logan’s Run for the bar sequence).

Futureworld is a blasé follow-up to a good movie.  The movie works more as a thriller than sci-fi, but as a thriller, it isn’t very thrilling.  Stick with the original Westworld rather than the sequel (or the 2016 TV series).  Futureworld was followed by the short-lived series Beyond Westworld in 1980.

Related Links:

Westworld (1973)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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