DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Futureworld (MGM MOD program)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Hough, Jan 28, 2011.

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  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Futureworld
    Directed by  Richard T. Heffron

    Studio: American International/MGM
    Year: 1976
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic  
    Running Time: 104 minutes
    Rating: PG-13
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
    Subtitles:  none

    MSRP:  $ 19.98


    Release Date: December 2010

    Review Date:  January 28, 2011



    Reviewer’s Note: MGM offered a review copy of one of their discs in their MOD program as being distributed by Fox through an arrangement with Allied Vaughn.



    The Film

    3.5/5


    While Westworld was a whale of a good time as a sci-fi thriller, its sequel Futureworld only uses the idea of adult resorts as a backdrop to its own special sci-fi story which, apart from a fleeting appearance by Yul Brynner in his Gunslinger persona and the idea of robots fulfilling any person’s dreams of pleasure, goes its own way with its own rhythms and textures. It’s not quite the equal of its predecessor in terms of thrills, and director Richard T. Heffron doesn’t milk the suspense he has for what it’s worth. Still, it’s an entertaining if somewhat overlong sci-fi trifle.


    Alerted by an escaped custodian that something isn’t quite right at Delos, the adult resort complex which after the events of the Westworld uprising has had to undergo a complete overhaul to prevent any future malfunctions, investigative reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) accepts the invitation of Delos’ managing director Dr. Duffy (Arthur Hill) to poke around the complex to his heart’s content. His companions are a formidable lot with television reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner), Russian prime minister Karnovsky (Bert Conroy), and Japanese diplomat Mr. Takaguchi (John Fujioka) among others along for the ride. Though on the surface things appear to be running smoothly, there is definitely malfeasance going on during the time the visitors are asleep. Aided by Harry, another curious custodian (Stuart Margolin), Chuck and Tracy eventually learn the truth, but will they be able to leave Delos alive to report what they’ve learned?


    The screenplay by Mayo Simon and George Schenck has some plotting holes (Chuck is allegedly scared of heights, but you’d never know it watching him during the film’s climactic half hour), and director Heffron’s pacing is too languid for a would-be thriller. Both writers and director spend too much time with a silly contest winner who doesn’t add enough humor into the mix to warrant his inclusion, and the production design doesn’t do enough to suggest anything futuristic. Still, there is a genuine effort here to go in a different direction from Westworld rather than merely regurgitating that same plot again for the sequel (perhaps that’s why this film wasn’t nearly as popular at the box-office), and the movie sustains some of the same creepy vibe that made other sci-fi epics about losing one’s identity popular during the 1970s.


    Peter Fonda has enough dogged tenacity to convince as a nosey newspaperman, but Blythe Danner’s television reporter is perhaps the least inquisitive journalist ever to appear on celluloid, her stubborn insistence on taking everything at face value and her genuine lack of curiosity about even the most suspicious events couldn’t possibly have won her any fans in the field of television journalism. Much more ingratiating, in fact, the film’s most bracing presence, is Stuart Margolin whose individuality as a comic actor saves scenes time and again with his dry wit and a truly caring nature. Arthur Hill adds stately authority to the proceedings without giving the game away while it’s wonderful to see iconic gunslinger Yul Brynner (in one of his final screen appearances) even if it’s only in a dream sequence and completely mute.



    Video Quality

    3.5/5


    The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Sharpness is above average (the opening game show sequence fools you into thinking the entire film is going to be this sharp and colorful, but it isn’t) and color saturation is fine but not outstanding. Black levels are fairly wan throughout leading to relatively weak shadow detail. Flesh tones look agreeable. There are minimal amounts of dirt and dust. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes, typical of MOD discs.



    Audio Quality

    3/5


    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. It’s a typical mono sound mix of the era with dialogue, music (a very TV-series style score by Fred Karlin of undistinguished quality), and sound effects all together in the same track. Dialogue is easy to understand (sometimes volume levels are a bit loud leading to some distortion), and ADR is easy to distinguish.



    Special Features

    1/5


    The disc does offer a trailer which runs 2 ¾ minutes and is in anamorphic widescreen. It’s notably dirtier than the feature film on the disc.



    In Conclusion

    3/5 (not an average)


    This entry Futureworld in the MGM/MOD program features above average picture and sound quality and a trailer. Fans of the movie will be glad to have it looking and sounding this good and available at long last for purchase.




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Matt,


    Thanks for the review. Do you have a link for the MOD store site for this DVD? I looked at the Amazon MGM/MOD page and didn't see this movie listed.


    [edit] I think I see it available at the "Movies Unlimited" site.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The press release which accompanied the review disc did not include any information about retail outlets. There is another thread here on the forum where MGM MOD discs are being discussed, and I'm sure purchase information can either be found there or someone on the thread can answer the question.


    Thanks!
     
  4. Adam Gregorich

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  5. Mark Pytel

    Mark Pytel Second Unit

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    Are the ones at Amazon the updated ones? Or are these still the old ones? I would rather order these from Amazon for the free shipping. I just want to make sure that if I order The Best Man from Amazon that it is the new one. Also why do the other sites mention the Offence and House of Long Shadows but Amazon still has these out of print? Part of me wonders if I should still get these from another site. Any ideas? I'd hate to order from Amazon and get the old discs.
     
  6. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Cinematographer

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    "I talked to Fox and they said currently the MGM MOD titles are exclusively available at Amazon."


    The MGM MODs including FUTUREWORLD are available through other outlets, like Movies Unlimited, unless I'm misreading this post. I received two of them myself last week.
     
  7. Adam Gregorich

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    That was a paraphrase on my part. Here were there exact words: "Right now they are only on Amazon. Additional e-tailers will be announced at a later date."
     
  8. Adam Gregorich

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    Amazon indicates on the product page that it is the MOD release: DVD-R Note: This product is manufactured on demand when ordered from Amazon.com.


    Please note that when I searched for it on Amazon it was on the second page of search results, after all the prior and R2 releases. Look for titles priced at 19.99 eligible for Prime when searching by title. Odds are these will be the MOD releases.
     
  9. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Quote:


    Thanks for the link. I'm not sure why I didn't see it listed at a link that I had earlier for the Ama/MGM MOD page.


    I'm wondering if the UK release (Feb 16, '09 which is anamorphic) has the same transfer quality as the MOD release. The UK DVD is £4.97 = $7.98 .
     
  10. Simon Lewis

    Simon Lewis Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the UK release. The picture is quite soft, but colours are ok and watching on a 42 inch screen, I didnt see any pixellation/compression type problems. As this was the first anamorphic release of this film in the UK, I was quite pleased with it.
     
  11. soop.spoon

    soop.spoon Supporting Actor

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    www.screenarchives.com is also carrying them. They are a reputable shop that generally caters to movie soundtracks.
     
  12. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Quote:


    Thanks for the info. I think I'll get the UK release to save $$'s since the UK release is anamorphic.
     

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