Futureworld is one of those films that comes with an awful lot of baggage.

A sequel to the outright classic Westworld, this 1976 effort has been battered from pillar to post over the years, dismissed as nothing more than a mere cash-in and a pale shadow of its excellent predecessor.

But does it deserve all of this vitriol?

Well, yes and no really.

Yes it is sluggish, with a pay-off you can see coming long before it arrives, and it includes one of the most pointless, bizarre cameos you are ever likely to see on screen.

But there is still enough to hold the interest – well, for me anyway.

Set two years after the original movie, the Delos company have reopened their interactive theme parks, where robots entertain wealthy guests and allow them to carry out their every whim and fantasy.

Wisely, after 95 people died last time round when the robots went bananas, they have ditched Westworld and now offer Romanworld, Medievalworld and Futureworld – hence the title.

Understandably though bookings have been sluggish, so Delos think a way to solve this is to get a bunch of journalists and dignitaries over for an all-expenses paid trip, allowing them to return home and big up the place.

The trouble for Delos though is that they decide to invite investigative journos Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner).

Naturally, they are not happy to simply accept the guff that the Delos bigwigs offer them, and set about poking around corridors to see just exactly what is going on.

Of course something sinister is afoot, and it is up to the two to try and uncover the truth and save the day (and even the world).

Things start off nicely enough and Fonda and Danner make a likable enough double-act, even if they are saddled with a cumbersome script.

Sure the film looks dated in its vision of the future, but there are still some pretty nice touches, and I have to say if something like Romanworld existed, I would be saving up my pennies no doubt.

But after an interesting build-up things fall very flat quickly, with Fonda and Danner taking an age to work out a conspiracy that viewers will have no problems piecing together.

And when it is all unveiled, a plan involving world leaders and robots seems to belong more in an episode of a dodgy superhero TV series than a supposed cutting-edge sci-fi flick.

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There is also some pretty dodgy editing and plot shifts in evidence – most notably at the conclusion when Danner’s character appears in two different places at the same time – wearing different clothes no less!

All this pales into insignificance though when stacked up against the appearance of Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger – the central, and incredibly memorable, villain from the first movie.

Naturally there was no way to include him this time around, so writer Mayo Simon and director Richard Heffron decide to crowbar him in in the most insane way possible – a Danner dream sequence in which she is dancing with the rogue robot.

It has to be simply the most ludicrous cameo from a returning character ever – if anyone can top it, please let me know.

The absence of Michael Crichton, who both wrote and directed the original, is sorely felt here and the polish and thrills of Westworld are most definitely absent this time around.

I still insist that Futureworld is not the awful dud some would have you believe (and the quality soundtrack courtesy of Fred Karlin is certainly worth checking out), but whether that is a recommendation is another matter altogether.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.