Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Future's So Dim, Forget About Wearing Shades

Futureworld (1976)


I think I’ve found the dullest film in the world. It appears that someone simply took a documentary of Peter Fonda walking around various underground power plants (Wow, aren't these futuristic? Well, no.) and spliced that footage together with Blythe Danner to make Futureworld, a sequel of sorts to the far more fun and interesting Westworld (with Michael Crichton nowhere to be found).

Like Westworld, Futureworld takes place in the robot-filled “Disneyland for rich adults who want to bang/kill life-size human sex toys” called Delos, which is pronounced at least 12 different ways, included “De-loss,” “De-lows,” “Day-loss,” and “Woody.” (This reminded me of the Star Trek episode with Frank Gorshin as the half black/half white alien from the planet Charon, pronounced, “Cher-on,” Shu-ron,” and “Lois”.)

Peter Fonda stars as ace apparently drugged-out reporter Chuck. He appears to be on some serious downers as he has pretty much only one expression on his face throughout the whole movie. I think he thought he was going to be working with Yul Brynner the whole time, but that immediately fell through and Fonda became pissed the rest of the production. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Blythe Danner (yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow’s moms) is pretty and all, but she is a pretty terrible actress too; any number of other 1970s era actresses could have played her air-headed anchor woman character.

The movie is basically them stumbling around Delos for nearly two hours, like a couple of drunk college kids looking for their next kegger. Fonda doesn’t even know what he’s looking for, he just knows some dude who claimed to work for Delos was killed and his last words were, what else, “Delos.”

When our intrepid journos arrive at the resort, it looks like nothing so much as Logan’s Run: Part II, meaning it looks like the mall. There’s even a model city under plastic bubbles, like Logan’s Run. Come to think of it, Logan’s Run also had scenes set in underground power plants. Holy crap, this is almost a sequel-remake of Logan’s Run! Michael York would have been a much better choice to play Chuck the newshound, as he has more than one expression.

This is a very stupid movie, produced by the fine folks at cheapie-makers American International Pictures (MGM had made Westworld). Fonda and Danner do make it to Futureworld at one point; they do so by putting on spacesuits that look like giant quilted Snuggies. But unlike the first film, where much of the action centered on Westworld (with the two leads staying there as cowboys), as well as having Brynner's cowboy as a focus, Futureworld is not important to the story. In fact, they spend more time in Undergroundpowerplantworld than anywhere else. That's what they should have called the movie.

They showed some clips from Westworld, which must have been the most expensive single item of the production. Instead of dealing with the robots of Futureworld, Westworld, or any of the other worlds, the plot involves - SPOILERS AHEAD - making replicants of world leaders – “czars, generals, politicians and such” – that are controlled by the board of Delos to keep us from killing each other, blah, blah, blah.They would have been better served to simply make an original movie about replacing the world leaders with clone/replicant duplicates than to have all the Delos/Westworld baggage about the rampaging murderous robots from the first film. That is where the filmmakers went totally worng.

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