Futureworld [Blu-Ray] Richard T. Heffron

Futureworld [Blu-Ray] Richard T. Heffron
3
Three years after Michael Crichton explored the inevitable entropic breakdown of engineered fantasy worlds in Westworld, laying the foundation for later blockbuster Jurassic Park, a group of jobbers came together to make this desultory sequel. With the mastermind out of the picture, the studio suits assembled a creative team comprised of two writers and a director with more experience making TV movies than big screen narratives. Their limited vision and lack of cinematic instincts show in every frame. Inferior as it is, at least Futureworld doesn't try to directly replicate Westworld's formula. Slumming it hard for a paycheque, Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner star as journalists Chuck Browning and Tracy Ballard, representing print and television, respectively. Two years after the fiasco that saw the Delos Corporation's fantasy vacation amusement park shut down following a murder spree by its robot workers, the adult Disneyland has been revamped and is ready to reopen. Even with a massive cash injection to rebuild safety protocols from the ground up, the public is understandably wary, so the company's top brass invite Browning and Ballard to an all-access, free tour of the new facilities, hoping to garner some good press and assuage lingering fears. Representing differing schools of thought that reflect popular perception of their respective mediums — Ballard is keen to write a puff piece, while Browning is intent on ferreting out the fish he catches a whiff of after a potential informant is murdered — the intrepid reporters agree and are joined by a prominent selection of international persons of influence. Rather than explore the gluttonous ego stroking of escapist power trippers, screenwriters Mayo Simon and George Schenck construct a tepid, paranoid political thriller, minus the thrills. No longer simply victims of hubris, the minds behind Delos have a nefarious agenda, but thanks to Richard T. Heffron's inert direction, there's no sense of tension or menace. While it makes sense that the Westworld attraction would have been decommissioned after bearing the brunt of the negative press, thanks to Yul Brynner's creepy robot gunslinger (the original indestructible, slow-walking antagonist, since copied by legions of horror films, who returns in a superfluous dream sequence), its replacement, Futureworld, doesn't fit the reasoning mould of the other environments. It does provide Heffron with the opportunity to make one of the dumbest visual effects decisions in the history of science fiction cinema though: representing Mars by lazily slapping a red filter on the camera lens. Following this standard of cheapness, the costumes and robot prosthetics look less authentic this time around too. In all fairness, there are a couple of moderately interesting concepts that emerge from a mid-film twist, while Fonda and Danner do what they can with the limp material, but the superficial handling of ideas and uninspired direction prevent even those modest cream droplets from achieving buoyancy. Futureworld is an attraction that shouldn't have made it past the drawing board. No bonus content to speak of is included, just a trailer, a still gallery and a couple of radio spots advertising Yul Brynner's nonsensical bit part. (Shout! Factory)